Great Illustrated Books

Samantha on a Roll

By Linda Ashman, illustrated by Christine Davenier

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 2011
Pages : 40
Suggested Ages: 5-8
ISBN: 9780374363994

The cover painting of an exuberant Samantha on roller skates, arms high and wide, bright-eyed and smiling, tells it all! Sammy cannot wait to try her new skates, but Mama tells her, "No Samantha. Not today. / Please, go put those skates away. / You're still too small. You don't know how! / I can't help you – not right now."

Like all good protagonists, Sammy cannot resist. She tries them out, first in the hall, then through the kitchen and the den. In ever widening circles she skates until she is out the door and on Hawthorn Hill. In a gorgeously illustrated full-page spread, young readers, like Sammy, will be dizzy with glee at the view from the hilltop of the town below. But Sammy does not anticipate the steep slope down: "Slow at first, she glides downhill. / Quickly then, and quicker still, / Till the scenery's blurring past – / Sammy's going VERY fast!"

The rhyming text never falters as it picks up the manic pace. In comic succession, all captured in sunny yellow, loose and loopy watercolors, Sammy bumps and collides with people, including a wedding party and a parade, and becomes entangled with, among other things, a bridal veil and a kite. With the kite, she soars high above the town and is lucky enough to land safely in a tree on her street. Meanwhile, Mama has been oblivious to Sammy's absence as she unleashes the dog, tends to the baby, and does other homey chores. Observant youngsters, however, will notice that the dog has been catching glimpses of all the action. Climbing down from the tree, Sammy races home before Mama comes in offering, "What a perfect child you've been – / Want to give those skates a spin?" Children will break down giggling.

Parent tips:
All's well that ends well in this funny, somewhat cautionary tale, but parents may want to use the opportunity to start a discussion about safety. Visit Safe Kids USA at

And/or the Klass Kids Foundation for some tips:

Reviewed by : JMcD


If you love this book, then try:

Lowry, Lois and Middy Thomas. Gooney Bird Greene. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2002.��

Katz, Alan and David Catrow. I'm Still Here in the Bathtub: Brand New Silly Dilly Songs. Margaret K. McElderry, 2003.

Dicamillo, Kate. Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride. Candlewick, 2006.

Critics have said

It's rarely a good thing when a picture book goes downhill, but it sure is in this rousing domestic adventure���at least for readers.
Publishers Weekly