The title sounds promising—what kid wouldn’t want to turn shoe shopping into something more daring? But most of Wynne-Jones’s story happens after the hero, code name S.A.M., and his mother, code name K. (“Short for Kay”), buy matching tiger-striped sneakers. Their day together includes lunch out (S.A.M. orders “a double buffalo burger with a side of snakes and an electron float”), thwarting the attempted theft of “the Plans for World Domination” (by a baby in a stroller), and a rescue of the family laundry from the clothesline before a rainstorm. Wynne-Jones (the Zoom trilogy) creates some lovely, offhanded rapport between mother and son (“We are matching tigers,” says S.A.M. “Roar,” says K.), but the incidents pile up without really hanging together. The book ends up being a portfolio of themed drawings by Won (Hooray for Hat!), who is in terrific form. His digital images, which combine the look of 1960s animation with a variety of compositional styles, handily capture both everyday sights (a shoe salesman carrying an improbable number of shoeboxes) and the drenched-in-shadows menace of imagined international intrigue. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (June)
Wynne-Jones (the Zoom trilogy) creates some lovely, offhanded rapport between mother and son (“We are matching tigers,” says S.A.M. “Roar,” says K.)...[Won's] digital images, which combine the look of 1960s animation with a variety of compositional styles, handily capture both everyday sights (a shoe salesman carrying an improbable number of shoeboxes) and the drenched-in-shadows menace of imagined international intrigue.
Text and art find their comedic stride when S.A.M. looks for K. in the Holding Cell of Despair (the toilet) and the Rocket Silo (broom closet)...Energetic compositions and appealing artwork bolster this spy-friendly text.
The snappy language and playful atmosphere are very entertaining, especially when K plays along with S.A.M.’s game and when S.A.M.’s new tiger-striped shoes help him come to the rescue when K disappears after a boom of thunder (she’s outside collecting the laundry before a rainstorm). This spirited story captures the enthusiasm of make-believe games, not to mention the appeal of brand-new sneakers.
The rather irksome task of shoe shopping gets the golden Bond touch here, as our young 007 takes both the tasks of finding new beaters and protecting the world with equal seriousness, resulting in an entertaining mix of satire and gentle humor...His Team of Expert Spies (three of his stuffed animals) and his code names for various locations in the house (the bathroom is the “Holding Cell of Despair,” while the piano bench is the “Torture Chamber”) are sure to elicit chuckles from viewers. Don’t be surprised if a few kids show up at the next storytime clad in black, flashlight in hand, and, of course, wearing some super-sweet sneakers.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
The realistic and the imaginary realms merge at climactic points, with the illustrations appearing either split screen–style or with a frightened Sam shown as a child against the dark S.A.M. background. Children will enjoy sharing Sam’s clever, creative adventure. A terrific read-aloud with bold, dynamic art.
—School Library Journal
This is a silly story that discusses a topic young children can personally relate to...The story is easy to follow and the images are very bright and vivid, instantly drawing the reader’s attention.
—School Library Connection
PreS-Gr 2—Sam's day includes exploring his home, shopping for new shoes, eating lunch out, riding the bus home, and taking a nap. His alter ego, Secret Agent Man (S.A.M.), however, is digging for treasure, monitoring a suspicious salesman, and having a side of snakes with his burger. The text and pictures alternate between depicting a spy thriller and a child's actual existence. The digital illustrations have the look of block prints. Textures, shading, and contrasting colors are used to differentiate between the real and the imagined. When Sam is in S.A.M. mode, he wears black clothing and a gadget belt. Those pages look nocturnal, full of shadowy black, blue, and brown tones. Regular life looks like daytime, and Sam is dressed as a kid. Kay (K.) is Sam's mom/partner. When they both decide to get shoes with tiger stripes, K. shows a Secret Agent side as well. The realistic and the imaginary realms merge at climactic points, with the illustrations appearing either split screen-style or with a frightened Sam shown as a child against the dark S.A.M. background. VERDICT Children will enjoy sharing Sam's clever, creative adventure. A terrific read-aloud with bold, dynamic art.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
A spy-obsessed boy must shop for shoes (tiger tennies!), and a newfound ability to tie them completes his mission.Secret Agent Man has a big imagination. In his mind's eye, raisins become jewels, fries are snakes, and everyone except K., his adult sidekick, is suspect. Together they canvas the sneaker store to find the right pair. The day is fraught with darkness and danger, but new tiger kicks help him roar to the rescue. Digital illustrations, done in a silkscreen aesthetic, bring the text to life. To convey the boy's thoughts, Won fills the spreads with atmospheric blues, creating an air of mystery and suspense. Their retro styling echoes pre-Cold War minimalist propaganda artwork—perfect for a spy. He cleverly juxtaposes this with S.A.M.'s reality, done in bright, white backgrounds and cheerful colors. Text and art find their comedic stride when S.A.M. looks for K. in the Holding Cell of Despair (the toilet) and the Rocket Silo (broom closet). However, some readers may lose heart when they see how easily S.A.M. learns to tie shoes—apparently without practice! S.A.M. has brown hair, dark eyes, and pink skin, while K., also pink-skinned, has lighter-brown hair and blue eyes.Energetic compositions and appealing artwork bolster this spy-friendly text. (Picture book. 4-7)