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I have to admit, I'm a sucker for a good story that features realistic kid characters, and Sam is about as realistic a preschooler as they get! That's apparent the moment he jumps into the nursery school car pool and punches his best friend hello, makes a face at one of the girls who rides with them and studiously ignores the girl in the front seat who is pretending to read even though they all know she can't read yet! Lowry does make a few references to Sam's first book: All About Sam, but it isn't necessary to have read it -- tho it was fun, too.
Sam's mother announces that she only wants home-made gifts for her birthday this year. And when he hears the family discussing the fact that Mom's favorite perfume is no longer available, he gets the perfect idea about what to make! But how exactly do you make perfume? And how are his 13-year-old sister and father doing with their presents -- Anastasia is getting poetry help from Sam, and Dad's not saying anything about his plans!
My only disappointment was the narrator. It's not that he's bad so much as it would be nice if more people knew that there were ways to tell stories for kids without being so @*@! condescending! Sorry, but I can't help but get indignant for kids; and, yes, they can usually tell when you're being patronizing and condescending to them, and they don't like it! Do you? On the other hand, the characters all had distinctive voices so that there wasn't any confusion about who was speaking.
Nonetheless, it's a fun book. I imagine it's even more fun when parents and kids listen to it together. But, keep in mind, since the main character is a pre-schooler, there are age limits on which kids will listen!