Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sam's New Friend

Robberecht, Thierry. 2007. Sam's New Friend. New York: Clarion.

Sam's New Friend was first published in Belgium and later translated to English. Sam, a self-described, "strong and brave" dog, plays with boys, not girls. When his mother tells him after school that the new girl in class, Ellie, will be coming over to play and spend the night, Sam is not happy. "But she's a girl!"

Sam is awakened during the night by Ellie's quiet sobbing. Her parents, she explains, may be getting a divorce. Sam models the behavior of his parents and treats Ellie kindly, comforting her and earning her friendship. And in the morning, he knows "she'll be all right, because she's tough. I'm Sam. I'm strong and brave. And so is my new friend Ellie."

Divorce may be mentioned in this story, but it is first and foremost a story of friendship and acceptance. The colorful oil painting illustrations and the vibrant colors of the text-only pages make Sam's New Friend an upbeat look at a sad topic. It's interesting to note that Sam's eyes (and the other characters as well) are depicted as small black dots - until Sam is "awakened" by Ellie's crying, and his eyes become wider and more expressive.

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