- Sam and the Big Kids by Emily Arnold McCully
Sam, a little brown bear cub in a blue ball cap, wants to play with the "big kids" (his older sister and her friend), but they continually tell him he's too small. When Sam's sister and her friend row a boat to a little island to get away and the boat drifts off, they end up being quite happy that Sam tagged along behind them, as he gallantly saves the day by bringing Mom to the rescue. In this short and sweet beginning reader, the simple, controlled vocabulary and word repetition assists young readers without slowing the plot. The engaging story follows a clear narrative arc, making it not only a good choice for beginning readers but also perhaps a decent example for beginning story writers as well. The short, crisp sentences are printed in a large, clear sans serif font, and the line and watercolor illustrations are attractively simple as well as helpful in fleshing out the minimal text. McCully's brown bear characters are comely little critters, and Sam's sister is particularly winning in her jaunty blue head bow. Young kids who know what it's like to be told "you're too little" will relate to Sam's story, cheer Sam's heroism, and delight in their own achievement of reading this title all by themselves.