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BOOK REVIEWS, Early/Young Readers, Read-Aloud Suggestions, Realistic Fiction, Self-Image/Self-Esteem

SAM WU IS NOT AFRAID OF GHOSTS by Katie & Kevin Tsang

Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts was a solid 3-star read for me. It is the first in a series about Sam Wu. The book begins with Sam’s ‘Unfortunate Incident That Will NEVER Be Mentioned Again’ during a school field trip. This results in Sam being christened ‘Scaredy-Cat Sam’ by his classmate Ralph Philip Zinkerman the Third. In order to prove he is NOT scared, Sam talks his parents into getting him a pet snake, which he names Fang. How could a Scaredy-Cat own a ferocious snake as a pet? Right? (Of course, Sam IS afraid of snakes.) When Fang goes missing and Sam and his two closest friends, Zoe and Bernard, become convinced there is a ghost in Sam’s house:

This was my chance to prove that I wasn’t Scaredy-Cat Sam. My chance to prove I was even braver than Ralph.

Sam, Zoe and Bernard–with some help from Sam’s little sister, Lucy–set out to do just that. What follows is a rambunctious story of trial and error before they are able to solve both problems. Both problems (Fang and the ghost) are resolved in absolutely believable ways, when applying the logic of 8-10 year-olds.

It took me a couple of chapters to really get into the characters, but once I did the story really took off. It’s silly without feeling ludicrous because the plot stays true to its main character: Sam. I continue to believe that characters can do outlandish things in believable ways as long as they always seem to grow organically out of who the character is. This is absolutely true in the case of Sam Wu.

Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts is a perfect fit for young readers who are beyond Captain Underpants but not quite ready for Diary of a Wimpy Kid. It’s fun, kid-centered and the text is still interspersed with illustrations.

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