cover image There’s Something About Sam

There’s Something About Sam

Hannah Barnaby, illus. by Anne Wilsdorf. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-328-76680-9

Barnaby’s gently rhythmic picture book imparts the importance of open-mindedness and inclusion in a clever, supernatural-tinged tale. When blond third grader Max hosts a birthday sleepover and invites all the boys in his class, he almost doesn’t include the new kid, Sam—“there’s something different about him.” At his mother’s urging, however, Max extends the invitation, and the pale, wild-haired Sam ends up attending, even though “There’s a full moon that night.” As the evening progresses, Max’s suspicions about this particular guest, who loves rare burgers and sprouts hair on his hands, begin to be confirmed, and the third act brings a welcome, generous twist. Delicately lined ink illustrations, supplemented by gradient watercolor washes, are reminiscent of classic picture books; Wilsdorf’s emphasis on movement adds to the art’s engaging quality. An endorsement of moving past uncertain first impressions—and accepting people despite, or because of, their idiosyncrasies. Ages 4–7. (July)