You may be wondering why we have such a strange title for this particular book review. Well, that is because we reviewed this book previously in September, 2012. Click here for the original review. To summarize our first impressions, the book was designed to allow the reader to bring the lovely story to life by providing blank pages at the back of the book for drawings. My daughter and I both liked this concept, but felt that the book could be improved if blank spaces would be interspersed within the text allowing the reader to illustrate the story as it was unfolding in the book.
I am very impressed with author LeAnn Beck. She took this feedback and re-formatted the book. Without a doubt, I feel the book is much improved in its current form; so, in fairness to the author, I felt that it was our duty to re-examine it and share with our readers what we think of it now.
**Please note that there is a Giveaway for this book being hosted as part of the First Reads Goodreads program. The giveaway runs from January 15th to February 15th, 2013. Enter for you chance to win a copy of When Sam Set Sail by LeAnn Beck.**
Title: When Sam Set Sail
Author: LeAnn Beck
Year published: 2012
Publisher: LeAnn Beck
Number of pages: 38
Recommended age: 3+
Reviewed by: Renee and Danielle (Mother and Daughter)
Summary (from previous back cover): This engaging tale of adventure and camaraderie welcomes the reader aboard an unexpected journey with unforeseen events. The salty and seaworthy crew who have spent their lives skimming the sea, find that what is beyond the horizon and the journeys that get us there, are shaped by the imagination and spirit we color them with. For children of all ages who enjoy the sea, from the deck or the shore, this adventure begs to be read again and again. Illustrate the events in this journal as you would record the voyage. Share with family and friends and see what they think of the surprise ending!
1. What is the story about? The book is about a ship that is sailing in the sea when it comes upon a big scary sea monster.
2. What do you think of the cover and the design of the book? I like the cover of the second book better because the first book only has a tiny ship in the corner and the second book has a huge ship in the middle. I like that in the second book there are pretty scrolls for drawing pictures on and in the first book, I didn’t like that you couldn’t draw pictures on each page.
3. What is your favorite part of the book? I really like that you can draw pictures on each page and I like the surprise ending but, ssshhh… I’m not telling.
4. What is your least favorite part of the book? I didn’t like that, in the first book, you couldn’t draw out the story on each page but could only draw a few pictures at the end on a couple pages. I like the second book much, much better.
5. What did you think about the story in the book? I liked the story in the book and I liked the rhyming and the end was surprising. I didn’t see THAT coming!
6. Who do you think would like this book? I think that it’s a good book because I don’t know about any other book where you can draw your own pictures and I recommend it to boys and girls six years old and up.
Daughter Rating: ★★★★★
My thoughts: The story in the book is told through lilting, rhyming verse and makes the reader feel as if they themselves are on a tall ship sailing the deep blue sea. The story provides the reader with adventure, excitement and just the right level of tension for young children. There is a twist at the end that I think children would really enjoy – and I can say in all honestly that I did not see it coming!
Aside from the cover, the book has no illustrations. In lieu of illustrations, children reading the book (or being read to) are encouraged to read the book from start to finish and then use their imagination to draw their own pictures interpreting the story. Each page is designed to look like an old weathered scroll and has some text and a wide space where a child can draw a picture. What I love about the design is that the text is so descriptive that it gives some direction to children for what to draw and which features to include in their picture.
Here is an example of the text from one of the inside pages:
The wrinkled beast … dusted with snails
Wore coral wedged between huge scales
His patchwork hide was streaked and marred
Where deep, old wounds had healed and scarred.
With this new design, illustrations accompany the text directly as is the case in most picture books. And can I just say … doesn’t that page just need a treasure map drawn on it!? Well, maybe not this particular one but there is another page, where a picture of a map would be perfect!
In my original review I also highlighted what I felt was a flaw in the concept. Specifically I stated, “Once there are pictures drawn in the book, the book can’t really be passed down to another child – it would be a very personal book.” I’ve also given this more thought and now I would say that there is definitely a place for a personalized book. In fact, to fully disclose, I purchased from Printakid a personalized book for my daughter when she turned three. As I also stated in my original review, (and what I would now like to emphasize) is that I can see that the book would be a lovely gift for a child and it could then become a cherished memento from their childhood.
My bottom line: I feel that the author’s re-design of this book has vastly improved its appeal. I can now fully recommend the book to someone wanting to share it with a child aged 3 years and older who can personalize it and hang on to it as a keepsake.
Grown-up Rating: ★★★★½
*** When Sam Sets Sail was provided to us free-of-charge by the author in exchange for an honest review.***
About The Author:
LeAnn Beck is a very blessed wife and mother who is privileged to teach guitar, write, and work with special needs individuals now that her children are young adults. In addition to family and friends, things that make life wonderful are horses, books, music, history, and anything near or on the ocean. When Sam Set Sail is my first published work and was inspired by and written for our children when they were young. They still recite stanzas verbatim on occasion and seem to appreciate a deeper meaning now that they’re older.
The decision to publish this story without illustrations, allowing the reader or loved ones to “mark up the journal” with their interpretations of the text, was a difficult one. But the reaction of readers after turning that last page, led me to imagine a book that remains open to every possibility. I hope children will be encouraged to illustrate their version of the adventure and that it will be enjoyed and shared for years to come.