Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli
Sam wins every race, so he’s not worried at all at the big race. His best friend Maggie is racing too, but Sam know that he is the best. He quickly leaves everyone behind, except for Maggie who stays right with him and then wins the race! Sam is devastated. He didn’t sleep at all before the next race and is so distracted that he’s late starting the race! Even starting after everyone else though, he quickly takes the lead. But then, he sees a flock of chicks on the roadway and though he can get around them safely, he worries about the other racers not seeing them in time. So Sam stops and saves the chicks who ride along with him to finish the race. Sam finishes last, but as he approaches the finish line he can hear people cheering – for him!
Winner of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for his first book The Watermelon Seed, Pizzoli has a knack for using simple language for big ideas. His books are straight forward and have a classic feel about them, perfect for the smallest children. At the same time, his books are not predictable. I thought this book might deal with jealousy as its primary focus, but it changed in the middle of the book to be more about good decision making and being a good friend. I appreciate that he was able to pivot a simple story like this into something with depth. That takes real skill.
Just like his writing, Pizzoli’s art is simple. He uses strong lines and bright colors to really create a feel that is distinctly his own. This book fairly glows with yellow on the page, sunny and bright as the racers speed on the page. Other pages with different emotions have different colors, something that really works to convey a change in feeling directly.
Another winner from Pizzoli, this book will appeal to children interested in cars and racing immediately but is also a great book about making good choices. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.