cover image SUPER SAM!


Lori Ries, , illus. by Sue Ramá. . Charlesbridge, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-58089-041-0

This seemingly unassuming slice-of-sibling-life tale is actually a little gem—a model of sunny storytelling economy with nary a false step. Redheaded Sam (who looks to be age 5 or 6) appropriates his toddler brother's blanket for a cape and transforms into Super Sam (the hero's name is always rendered comics-style, in all-caps bold type). Utterly captivated, little Petey (named in a portrait drawn by Sam) pads around the house behind his big brother to witness his amazing displays of superpowers. "Show your strength, Super Sam!" proclaims newcomer Ries's text, as Ramá (Cheer Up ) depicts him exuberantly hoisting a toy truck over his head while Petey looks on in open-mouthed wonder. But when Petey gets a boo-boo and won't stop crying, Super Sam's powers seem all for naught—until he realizes that maybe his "cape" needs to be used for its originally intended purpose. "Super, Sam," reads the closing text in simple font, as Petey blissfully envelops himself in the blanket's comfort. Ries's concise, exclamatory lines are a perfect match for Ramá's buoyant, tightly focused watercolor-and-crayon illustrations (the waxy textures add a nifty, kid-style touch). With just two dots and an arc for Petey's facial features, Ries expresses everything there is to say about a young sibling's adoration and a big brother's protectiveness. Ages 2-7. (July)