Author/illustrator Alix Berenzy introduces young readers to Sammy, a classroom guinea pig with an important message. As the students try to decipher Sammy's chirps and loud "wheep," they learn more about Sammy's unique personality and needs. Without sentimentality, Berenzy reveals the importance of the child/animal bond, and her soft-toned paintings accurately present an engaging little creature and his world. These days, classroom companions may offer youngsters their only chance to connect with an animal. With busy households having few, if any, pets and little contact with the natural world, we can give three cheers for schools that have a place for Sammy and his furry friends. 2005, Henry Holt, Ages 3 to 7.
PreS-Gr 2-One Monday, Sammy is inexplicably unhappy. As Ms. B and her students try to figure out what is bothering him, many facts about guinea pigs and their care are conveyed. The teacher goes through all of the possible reasons for his distress-what kinds of symptoms would he have if he were sick? What would he do if he were frightened? What do his different noises mean? Finally, they discover that he just wants a little attention. The story is slight, but the pastel-and-colored-pencil illustrations are very successful in depicting the characters, particularly the endearing little animal with a variety of facial expressions. Sammy is presented in lifelike poses, and the renderings of the children and their somewhat-frazzled teacher also have an air of authenticity. Through simple text and engaging artwork, Berenzy shows the proper set-up of a guinea-pig cage, what foods are best for these creatures, and how responsive they are to humans. This book will find an audience in the many classrooms that have pets.-Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Though somewhat didactic, Berenzy's latest is an engaging and informative primer for kids with classroom pets. Berenzy puts the focus on Sammy, and begins by describing his home: "He had hay to chew on, water to drink, and a round block of salt to lick." Later she mentions one of Sammy's favorite treats, "freshly cut grass," which students are careful not to collect from the roadside "where it could be polluted by cars and other animals." Setting them against a cream-colored background, Berenzy suffuses her pastel-and-pencil illustrations with a hazy light. Each vignette is a snapshot of Sammy and the classroom in which he lives. They're realistic, yet cute, especially when Sammy curls up in a ball, then tilts his head back and lets out a "WHEEP!" What Sammy really wants is love and attention, the students soon see, and that's the best lesson of all. (Picture book. 6-9)
“The pastel-and-colored-pencil illustrations are very successful in depicting the characters, particularly the endearing little animal with a variety of facial expressions. . . . Through simple text and engaging artwork, Berenzy shows the proper set-up of a guinea-pig cage, what foods are best for these creatures, and how responsive they are to humans. This book will find an audience in the many classrooms that have pets.” School Library Journal
“Guinea pigs are popular classroom pets, so many kids will identify with the experience of the students in Ms. B's class. . . . a particularly satisfying ending.” Booklist
“Sammy, with his pink smile, floppy ears, and inquisitive nose, looks so lifelike that he almost waddles off the page.” Publishers Weekly