________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 7 . . . . November 24, 2006


Sam Goes Next Door. (Kids Can Read).

Mary Labatt. Illustrated by Marisol Sarrazin.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2006.
32 pp., pbk. & cl., $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55337-879-2 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55337-878-4 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Dogs-Juvenile fiction.
Games - Juvenile fiction.
Infants - Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1–2 / Ages 6-7.

Review by Jonine Bergan.

*** /4


“Puppies do not like to dress up,” thought Sam.

“Puppies do not like plastic cake. Puppies do not like mud cookies. And puppies do not like grass salads!”


Mary Labatt’s favourite puppy character, Sam, is back in the new early reader book, Sam Goes Next Door. The irrepressible little sheepdog teaches the children who live next door what puppies like to play in this level 1, “Kids can start to read” book - part of the “Kids Can Read” series.

     Sam notices new neighbours are moving in next door. When she sees the neighbours have children, she decides she wants to play with them. Luckily, the children want to play too. Unfortunately, the children choose to play family. Sam does not like to play family, especially when she is dressed up as the baby. After trying the children’s game, Sam decides to show the kids what games puppies like to play.

     The illustrations by Marisol Sarrazin are engaging. Using muted backgrounds of blues, greens and yellow, Sarrazin successfully focuses the reader on the visual clues needed to help decipher the words of the text. For example, Sam’s feelings are easily apparent through her animated facial expression. Minimizing the visual clutter also allows a nonreader to be able to tell the story quite accurately through the pictures without the text.

     Mary Labatt’s use of simple sentences and repetition are consistent to the level 1 category. However, a beginner reader may find the amount of text and the difficulty of some of the words intimidating. The use of various sight words and words with blended consonant sounds and silent letters indicate this story would be more appropriate in the level 2 category.

     My co-reviewer, a six-year-old beginner reader, liked Sam. He especially enjoyed Sam’s running away with the stuffed animal and the children and Sam’s playing tug-of-war with the blanket. However, he quickly became frustrated sounding out so many unfamiliar words. He did not finish reading the book, indicating it was too hard. He did enjoy telling the story, however, using the pictures.    

     The reader in Grades 1 through 2 will find this a fun book to read. Animals,  particularly puppies, are very popular with young children; however, the emerging or beginning reader in kindergarten and grade 1 may find this book a challenge.


While completing the Library Technician course through Red River College, Jonine Bergen works at the Millennium library in Winnipeg, MB.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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