HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Something Special
Author and Illustrator: David McPhail
Publisher: Little Brown and Co., republished in 1992
ISBN-13: 978-0316563246 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0316563242 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0316563338 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0316563331 (Paperback)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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McPhail, David. Something Special (published in 1988 by Little Brown and Co., Boston, MA). This book tells about Sam, a little raccoon who is the only one in his talented family without an apparent ability. One sister, Sarah, plays the piano. Another sister, Flo, plays first base. His brother Eugene is a computer whiz. His father is a wonderful cook. His mother carves wooden birds. His grandmother is a knitter. Even his dog can balance a bone on is nose. But Sam seems to fail at everything he tries. He can’t play the piano, catch a ball, or figure out a computer. His family isn’t hungry when he makes dinner. He’s too young to carve with a knife, and Grandma’s job is much harder than it looks. And he can’t balance a bone on his nose. Is there anything that he can do? If so, what is it? And how will he find it?
The reassuring story is told simply with humor and a light touch, and the expressive, full-color, ink-and-wash illustrations show McPhail’s typically endearing animal characters as Sam discovers his special niche which wins him self-respect and the admiration of others. The lesson of the book for both children and adults is that we should never give up seeking for something that we love and are able to do, so it will encourage a child to keep searching for whatever he’s good at and not stop until he finds it. It may not come right away but it will come soon enough, which means that we have to keep looking and trying. David McPhail is the creator of dozens of wonderful books, including Big Brown Bear’s Up and Down Day; Sisters; Mole Music; and several Green Light Readers.