“Mabel and Sam at Home” by Linda Urban, illustrated by Hadley Hooper
c.2018, Chronicle Books
$17.99 / $24.99 Canada
“Handle with Care.”
That’s what it said on the side of the box. Don’t shake it, don’t bump it, and whatever you do, don’t drop it. What’s inside there is important enough for careful lifting but, as you’ll see in the new book, “Mabel and Sam at Home” by Linda Urban, illustrated by Hadley Hooper, the box itself isn’t just a box.
Nothing was where it belonged, and movers were everywhere. It was a perfect time for Mabel and Sam to be underfoot, and that wasn’t good. Just one place in the entire house was safe for little kids, and so “Mabel became a sea captain.”
Once aboard their ship, Sam hoisted the sails and they left for adventure. It was a journey for the brave: there were rough seas and pirates, big fish and little fish. They managed to stay on board, though, until they saw land (although Sam pointed out that they were already on land) and they found people who happened to have pizza.
After lunch, Sam noticed that his old rocking chair looked different. It wasn’t where it used to be and it “looked like a stranger.” And so Mabel took him on a little tour of the old house, as if it were a museum.
Sam had to talk softly because loudness was disrespectful of others. That’s how you act in a museum, but that was okay. There were amazing things to “behold” (a new word he learned) and all kinds of artifacts (another new word). It was the most wondrous tour, and Sam even found an artifact of his own.
At the end of the day, once they were in the new house, Sam and Mabel became astronauts in a rocket that Mabel found. There was a lot of space to explore in the new house – um, maybe too much. Sam’s bed was in a different room there and it was far away from Mabel’s rocket. There were aliens in the new house, too, but the “Astronaut Parents” had a solution…
Change is coming. It always does, but knowing that doesn’t make it easy to accept if you’re just knee-high. “Mabel and Sam at Home” will show your child that there are many ways to cope.
But first, there’s a gift for you inside this book: author Linda Urban tells three keenly clever stories that are just as much for grown-ups as they are for kids. If you’re going to read this book multiple times, after all, you might as well enjoy it — and you will, because the dialogue between characters gives readers that in-on-the-joke feeling. Mabel and Sam both know they’re pretending and so do we — and sharing the imagination is just too charming.
This book may be a bit long and over-wordy for the smallest children, though they’ll love the illustrations by Hadley Hooper. The story itself is perfect for kids ages 4-to-8 and for adults who can put aside their adultness and pretend. If that, “Mabel and Sam at Home” is a book you’ll absolutely care to read.