The Somewhat True Adventures of Sammy Shine, by Henry Cole (Apr. 2016, Peachtree Publishers), $16.95, ISBN: 9781561458660
Recommended for ages 8-12
A young boy’s brother launches his pet mouse off in a homemade airplane, and starts the little mouse off on the adventure of a lifetime! Sammy, the mouse, lands in a field and discovers that life outside of his friend Hank’s room is very, very different. Thankfully, he meets a wonderful group of animal friends that help him in his quest to get back home, but he has to steer clear of the awful weasel, Mustela, who wants Sammy’s plane for himself!
This was another of my PLA goodies, and I’m so glad I listened to the rep and took an ARC. I love Henry Cole’s writing and illustration, and when she told me that this book was inspired by a childhood experience: Henry Cole did have a pet mouse named Sammy Shine, and his brother did launch Sammy off in a plane; this book is what Henry likes to think Sammy went on to do after that flight. What tribute to a pet is sweeter than that?
Illustrated with Cole’s beautiful black and white drawings, we get an animal adventure up there with The Rescuers, Stuart Little, and The Great Mouse Detective. The characters are sweet, even when they’re cantankerous (I always had a soft spot for Templeton in Charlotte’s Web), and the exciting sense of adventure leaps off the page, extends its hand to the reader, and invites you in to join the fun. Intermediate readers will adore Sammy, and middle graders will come back to Sammy to enjoy one more mission. I hope Mr. Cole dreams up more missions for Sammy and Co.; I’d hate to think that the adventure only lasted for one brief moment.
Get this one on your shelves for summer reading, and booktalk it with old favorites like The Rescuers, and new classics like The Tale of Desperaux, The Guardians of Ga’Hoole, and The Warriors series.
Henry Cole is an award-winning author and illustrator of children’s books. Among his more recent titles are Big Bug and Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad. He has illustrated such ground-breaking titles as And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, I Know a Wee Piggy by Kimberly E. Norman, and The Sissy Duckling by Harvey Fierstein. His author website includes information about all of his books and school visits, and games.