Samantha’s Silly-icious Sandwiches
Samantha’s Silly-icious Sandwiches
Before Samantha could say, “Stop eating my silly-icious Salisbury-steak- and-scrambled-egg sandwich smothered in strawberry syrup and sunflower seeds,” her sandwich was gone.
Via a young girl’s journey of making her own sandwiches for lunch, Samantha’s Silly-icious Sandwiches is a highly educational picture book that touches on a variety of topics, including nutrition, independence, and creativity; however, one of the best aspects of this book is that it doesn’t constantly remind readers that they are learning throughout the book’s entirety. The author, Tina Powell, plays with the text and takes a fun approach to the entire plot making the learning very subtle. Even I had to read it multiple times in order to fully unpack everything that Powell tackles in this picture book!
The young girl, Samantha, shows independence in the tasks that she carries out, including making her own lunches and successfully setting up and running her own sandwich stand on school grounds. While she eventually concludes that she misses her mother’s sandwiches and foregoes her sandwich stand, she has proved to herself that she can do anything she puts her mind to, even if others, including her mother and peers, don’t believe in her. All that matters is that she believes in herself.
The overall message of the picture book focuses on Samantha’s coming to the realization that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. The first couple pages of the book begin with Samantha’s admiring the lunches of everyone else around her and feeling as though the lunches her mother makes her are inadequate. This situation essentially fuels Samantha’s pursuit to make her own lunches. The last couple of pages show her realizing how much work and time go into making these elaborate sandwiches and how many fun things she has missed out on, like seeing her friends and playing with her pony, Skip, because of it. This is an important message for young children to be exposed to because it is natural to always want more and better. This picture book encourages readers to be grateful for what they already have and, most importantly, for the people they have in their lives. By Samantha’s coming to miss her mom’s making her sandwiches and the free time she had to play with friends, children may start to draw connections to their own personal lives. Something they may want so badly may not be worth the sacrifices they have to make in order to get it.
Something that is extremely evident from even just the title and first couple pages of the book is Powell’s utilization of different literary devices. The use of both alliteration and onomatopoeia is a significant component of the picture book and contributes to the silliness and downright fun of the book. By strategically choosing to use these devices, Powell makes the reading very easy. The story just seems to flow almost immediately after reading the title. While reading Samantha’s Silly-icious Sandwiches, I found myself becoming excited and very curious as to what the next page would say. I have no doubt that the text and use of language, including made-up “s” words, would surely draw young readers in.
However, I do think that the text used in this way poses an intriguing challenge for readers. While the story flows very well and is, overall, a fairly easy read, all the “s” words encourage readers to slow down and work on their speech and language skills. While the words used in this book are both real and made-up, the combination of them and the tongue-tying sentences cause readers to pause and read the sentence more slowly. Nonetheless, the challenge to sound out unfamiliar words or string together a sentence that may be a mouthful should not be enough to deter readers from continuing because Powell’s fun approach overrides the challenge. As noted earlier, readers aren’t reminded that they are learning while reading; they are actually so immersed in the fun language of the book that they are too distracted and consumed by the plot to become discouraged by sounding out the words.
I recommend this book for young children but be aware that they may need a little bit of help with some of the text. The plot and the main character’s journey are inspiring and empowering while also humbling at the same time. The book encourages children to believe in themselves, but, at the same time, to always stay grounded. It teaches them to remember to be happy with the present and to not always be wishing for more and better because it might not actually turn out to be better. I can definitely see myself reading this book to my young students – especially if paired with a letter “s” theme! Samantha’s Silly-icious Sandwiches is interesting and engaging.
Melissa Toby completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of the Fraser Valley (Abbotsford, British Columbia) in Spring 2018, her Bachelor of Education at Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, B.C.) in Fall 2019, and is currently working as a grade one teacher in the Langley School District (Langley, B.C.).