Sam, Bangs & Moonshine
written and illustrated by Evaline Ness/ published 1966 by Henry Holt and Company
OK, come on, before this woman wrote this book, she was married to THE Eliot Ness. How awesome is that? That said, this is a powerful story, touching on the overwhelming nature of the imagination. The story of a fisherman's daughter, it is the often sad tale of giving up childish things for the real world. It's a little bit of a bubble-popper for those who want to live in the world of fantasy forever, but in this case, growing up means letting go of some not so happy things.
Sam said her mother was a mermaid,
when everyone knew she was dead.
Sam said she had a fierce lion at home, and a baby kangaroo.
(Actually what she really had was a old wise cat called Bangs.)
Beautifully written with muted illustrations, it is so infused with melancholy and mystery that it almost makes you feel five again. That feeling of exhilarating escape that the imagination can bring even in the face of great sadness. We've all been there before, pretending so we do not have to see. If you can't relate to this tale, then you must be dead.
Some of the Days of Everett Anderson
Fierce the Lion