Stead (Ideas Are All Around) returns to themes he's made his own: friendship, acceptance, and love for small, ordinary objects that most people overlook. Together, his observations form a gentle theology. Samson is a mammoth who wears an expression of furry concern. He's first seen weeding his dandelion patch. (Aren't dandelions weeds? Not to Samson.) A red bird appears: "Would you mind if I took some flowers for a friend?" the bird asks. "He is having a bad day." Samson hears this wistfully: "He wondered what it would be like to have a friend." When a blizzard descends, Samson thinks immediately of the bird, his concern etched in a wordless vision of the tiny animal sprawled in the snow, and sets out to rescue her. Samson trudges over broad, snowy plains, eventually finding a mouse--the very friend, it emerges, for whom the flowers were intended. Together they find the bird, not a moment too soon. The contrast between the very large and the very small contributes to the story's magic, and so does Samson, a hero who is tender, patient, and loyal. Ages 4-8. Agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (Sept.)Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
K-Gr 2--Samson the woolly mammoth is content with the company of his flowers. When a little red bird flies by, asking for some flowers for a friend whose favorite color is yellow, Samson wonders what having a pal would be like. As summer turns to winter, Samson, concerned about the bird's fate, decides that "it is better to walk than to worry" and sets out to find her. In the meantime he meets a mouse who is also in search of a friend, and together they rescue the bird, who has become trapped in the ice. The storm finally passes as the three newly united creatures trade stories of their adventures. Simple language is suitable for either read-alouds or independent reading. Although some text blocks are within illustrations, most are placed on light backgrounds, making all but one easy to read. As in the best picture books, the narrative is told in words and pictures. Two wordless spreads show the bird's predicament, while a third contrasts these starry white and blue winter scenes with a bright yellow summer one. Pencil-line animals stand out against highly textured backgrounds, and color is essential to the plot, as readers realize that the mouse--whose favorite color is yellow--is the friend for whom the bird originally sought flowers. VERDICT This sweet tale of friendship deserves a place in every collection.--Jill Ratzan, Congregation Kol Emet, Yardley, PACopyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.