Samantha is bored, bored, bored until she gets the notion to start a “lemonade” stand selling her favorite homemade Lebanese cream-cheese-and-cucumber sandwiches instead of lemonade. Will her customers agree with her that “different is good?” With some help from her friends and a magical eagle, Samantha’s sandwich stand has a triumphant opening day.
Sonia Saikaley is a poet, so it stands to reason that her first children’s book would be rhythm-rich. Despite the book being aimed at 6–8-year-olds, Saikely manages to avoid the temptation to stick to a downbeat Seussian tempo. Instead, she inserts the occasional almost rap-like cadence:
Naoko banged the drum with red drumsticks: Boom! Boom!! Boom!!!
Just then, Samantha’s friend Jimmy zoom, zoom, zoomed by on his skateboard.
If there is a downside, it is that the book is almost aggressively multi-cultural. Samantha’s friends all return from visits to their respective areas of presumed ancestral origin (Scotland, Japan, and British Columbia) just in time to save the day with various travel souvenirs, and the deus ex machina eagle coming to the rescue upon being summoned by the Indigenous child may cause mild eye-rolling in adult readers. Still, minor stereotyping is unlikely to concern the book’s target audience, and in this reviewer’s opinion a slight touch of magic improves almost any tale.
Nathan Caro Fréchette’s illustrations are the perfect foil for the story. They are simple and colorful, yet surprisingly expressive. Too, his depictions of characters with different racial backgrounds are not merely tinted drawings of white people, which is refreshing. All in all, this is a pleasant tale of friendship, innovation, and appreciation – which are appropriate at any age.
October 11, 2021
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