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Allen Morgan. Illustrated by Christina Farmilo.
Toronto, ON: Oasis Press, 1990.
32pp., paper, $6.95.
ISBN 1495092-00-0. Distributed by Moonstone Press, P.O. Box 96, Goderich, ON. N7A 3Y5. CIP.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8

Reviewed by Jennifer Johnson.

Volume 18 Number 6
1990 November

In Sam and the Tigers, author and now publisher Allen Morgan tackles the subject of childhood fears. Sam expects to look and be braver and stronger when he wakes up five years old. His mother reassures him that people still feel afraid when they are old but that if they face their fears they find they can deal with them. Sam doesn't expect to be fearful ever again, but on answering the doorbell he is faced with one, then another and then a third tiger. Each one is more frightening than its predecessor, and each has more outrageous threats to make. Sam eventually turns on the threesome with his own fierce glare and reduces them to tiger butter, which becomes the basis of the birthday sandwiches.

Morgan employs his story-teller's skills to good effect in Sam and the Tigers. He uses repetition and a traditional pattern of increasing threat and completes the tale with a satisfying ending. As an adult reading to a child I found the mother's explanation that Sam should look his fears "straight in the eye" weak. The sacrifice of baby brother to the third tiger was also jarring.

As an illustrator Christian Farmilo is less successful than other interpreters of Morgan's work. She does enhance the sense of fantasy in the tiger scenes when she shows house plants growing to jungle proportions and spilling through letter slots, out of drawers and creeping up the stair rails; however, her human figures are not appealing and in Sam's case do not remain consistent throughout the story.

Sam and the Tigers is the work of an experienced story-teller whose sense of children's fears and concerns is unquestionable. In this most recent effort, however, Morgan has relied too heavily on a turn of phrase as the basis for his book. Sam is not up to the standards established by earlier publications.

Jennifer Johnson, Ottawa, ON.
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