cover image Sam Who Was Swallowed by a Shark

Sam Who Was Swallowed by a Shark

Phyllis Root. Candlewick Press (MA), $12.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56402-198-4

Sam has always wanted to go to sea, but his neighbors, Mr. Barleybean and Mrs. Seednibbler, try to convince him that ``rats should have their paws planted firmly on the ground.'' Sam remains determined nevertheless, and his dream becomes a reality as he buy a boat-building kit and then hammers, saws, sandpapers and caulks a sailboat into existence. At last he can bob downstream to ``the sea of his heart's desire.'' As months pass without word from the seafarer, his neighbors are convinced he has met a terrible end (`` `Poor Sam,' said Mrs. Seednibbler. `Swallowed by a shark.' ''); in fact, Sam is sailing ``faraway,'' happy as can be. Understated prose interspersed with chipper dialogue captures the clarity of Sam's ambition while the even pacing underlines his quiet persistence and progress. Imbued with a fresh sense of color, Scheffler's clean-lined illustrations evoke a woodland community of hardworking river rats. A bucolic atmosphere reigns, the title adding just a touch of dark humor. Ages 3-up. (May)