Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sam and the Firefly

Sam and the Firefly
P.D. Eastman ~ Random House, 1958

Again, I apologize for the obvious and will be back with random, abstract thrift store finds next month, but for now... it's time to give it up for the classics. Strangely, this one falls into the top five favorite books from my own childhood (even before Eastman's Go, Dog, Go), and my son glommed on to it pretty quick. Again, the fact that the story takes place at night and mostly in the dark gave it an air of experiencing something that only went on when I was passed out in my toddler bed... something spooky and mysterious (I mean, come on... isn't there always an owl pictured in a tree when something mysterious and spooky is afoot!?!) That said... I still love this book. In fact, I can't get enough of it, and am always pushing it on my son and giving it top bedside table billing just so I can experience it again and again and again.

The way all the pictures are shadows in a deep blue expect for the yellow glowing eyes of the owl, the tail of the firefly, and the firefly's leave-behind light... with some white light (the moon, car headlights, street signs) thrown in for a perfect trifecta of color. This book rocks my world in the hardest way.

So yea, Sam the owl and Gus the firefly are friends, that is until Gus learns that his tail light it the perfect conduit for rascal–isms. Man that firefly’s butt gets them in a mess of trouble. Gus begins his shenanigans by writing all kinds of bad, bad words in the sky…

What was Gus up to?
Gus made some words.
Gus made GO FAST and SLOW.
He made GO RIGHT and GO LEFT.
And did those cars GO!
They went BASH!
They went SMASH!
Gus did words that made the cars CRASH.

Sam tries to stop him, but Gus is having too much darn fun!

“Now see here, Gus…”
But Gus would NOT see.
He would not hear.
I like to make words,
LOTS of words,” he said.
"I LIKE this game!
Let me be, you old GOOSE, you!”
And away he went.

When his bad behavior gets the best of Gus, and lands him in some pretty deep water, it is Sam who must save the day! This book has it all, really. A wicked sense of humor, suspense and talking animals! If for some reason you’ve been living on Mars, and haven’t ever read this book, buy it NOW. It is that great. (Plus for the past year and a half… whenever I am spoiling the fun, my son calls me YOU OLD GOOSE. Nice right?) Like Roy McKie, I also harbor a secret crush on this guy... but don't tell my husband! Too bad I was only 14 when he died.

Also by:
Are You My Mother?


Emmy said...

I like the idea of the illustrations/night scenes. Yet another that I'm excited to check out.

colleeeen said...

ahhh, i loved this one as a kid, but had forgotten about it. now i'll have to keep an eye out. i just picked up the Bearensteins' Bears In the Night, which also offers that sense of spooky nighttime mystery (plus an owl!).

Burgin Streetman said...

You know that's the thing. I always feel bad for posting on the classics, but forget that sometimes people forget too. There is just so much great stuff out there, it is nice to be reminded. I always loved In the Night and have been holding out for a cheap vintage copy, but I think I'm gonna have to buy online and suck up the shipping!

colleeeen said...

no, the classics are great and we should be reminded of them - there's too much crap out there masquerading as appropriate books for children. up above you posted about another forgotten Mercer Mayer classic from my late-70's upbringing. and i actually have my childhood copy of Professor Wormbog and the Search for the Zipperumpazoo, but it's in such beat-up condition we don't read it too often.

Anonymous said...

Question for you.. Do you know the author to the children's book "Sam" about a little black boy who goes from room to room in his house and ends up breaking, spilling, etc things with each of his family members and his mom ends up letting him bake with her? It was one of my favorite childhood books and can't find the author... Thank you for any help you can give. Katrina

Anonymous said...

Of course I have been looking forever and just now found it after I wrote you.. lol.. It was Sam by Ann Herbert Scott.

Karen van Hoek said...

This was my favorite book when I was very little. I asked my parents to read it to me over and over, and they pointed out which word was which on the page, until I could read it myself. Most of why I showed up at school already knowing how to read was "Sam and the Firefly." Like you, I couldn't get enough of the lovely-eerie blue shadows of the nighttime scenes, punctuated by the bright yellow of Gus's light. It was like going into another world, one that exists only when the sun goes down and Sam and Gus come out to play by the lake. Come to think of it, the feeling I've had about books my entire life -- the tingle of anticipation, expecting that words on the page will lead straight into a fantastic world of imagination -- may well have been shaped in large part by this one book.

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