Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sam and Emma - a bookwrap

We are all different...thank goodness!  It is such a diverse world and we must learn to be accepting and tolerant of each other and yes....even celebrate those differences in those around us. Today's book touches on that subject and I hope you come away with a mind and heart that's ready to dispense grace and love to those we encounter on life's journey.

Quotes about acceptance...


"Sam and Emma"

Authored by Donald Nelsen and Illustrated by Edward Gorey

Ages 7-12

Unwrapping some illustrations for you to peek at...

About the book...

"Sam and Emma lived quite content
in a house
with a garden 
where they didn't pay rent."

Thus begins this charming tale of two friends that spend a day travelling together and discover what each is really like.  Sam is a dog who is gentle and kind while Emma, a cat, always has herself on her mind with little attention towards or consideration for others.  

The first creatures that they encounter are some beavers hard at work building a dam across a brook.  

"Aren't they ugly?" shrieked Emma as she put up her nose - and her tail.  Sam went over to them and started a conversation asking permission to watch them work for a while.  When he introduces Emma to the beaver workforce she manages a cool smile and decides right then and there that they are not her kind of animal.  

The beavers get it and with a knowing smile ask if the two would like to join them for lunch. Oh boy, Sam is totally delighted and accepts their friendly invitation right away, while Emma through gritted teeth, hesitantly agrees.  The beavers dispense grace as they head upstream to catch fresh trout for their outdoor picnic.  Sam tucks in heartily but Emma upturns her nose even more refusing the fish as she is always served fish out of  "nice little tins and neatly arranged".  Oh my, how rude!   After they depart company Emma says loudly to Sam:

"Oh my lands!
Weren't they dreadful!
And so ugly!"

Well the rest of the trip doesn't get any better because Emma expels the same snooty attitude when she comes across two porcupines climbing down from a tree, two raccoons out in the bright daylight trying trying to make their way home to sleep, and an inverted opossum just dangling from a tree sound asleep.  Emma cuts deeply into Sam's heart when she remarks that the racoons are crazy and lazy to sleep away their day and blurts out a cruel remark regarding their living quarters, an old hollowed out log:

"How disgusting!" said Emma.
not even a dog would live like that."    

Oh my!   Emma crosses the line.  What a careless and hurtful thing to say to her dog -friend Sam.  He is terribly upset with her barage of criticism about everyone, even him. 

He feels obligated then to point out the error of her ways and tell her that everyone is different and do not want to be like her. He goes on to state that she must allow others to be themselves and to leave them alone. It's not a bad plan at all. 

When they finally arrive home Sam hopes that Emma has learned a valuable lesson about tolerance and embracing those not like her.  

What do you think?  Do you think Emma will reflect on her day and change her attitude?  Will Emma learn that words are powerful and their meaning go deep into hearts?  We all can learn a very valuable lesson from this book...  think before you speak and wrap your words in kindness.  Speak about others as you would like them to speak about you. 

I loved the message of the book and the illustrations drove the message home.  It is perfect conversation starter regarding manners, etiquette, kindness and tolerance.   I highly recommend it.

About the author...

Indiana native Donald Nelsen has lived and worked in New York City for more than 50 years. In 1959 he was awarded a Fulbright grant to study painting in Paris, and upon his return to the United States he joined a design studio and began creating textile and wallpaper designs as well as painted wood carvings of everyday objects. Several of his oil paintings are on display at the Brooklyn Historical Society.

Donald Nelsen, still creates evocative paintings and sculpture, and lives in Brooklyn Heights. Six of his urban realist paintings hang in the Brooklyn Heights archive. He has written one other book, for children, The Spotted Cow (1972). Visit Nelsen's website at for more. 

About the illustrator...

Edward St. John Gorey was an American writer and artist noted for his illustrated books. His characteristic pen-and-ink drawings often depict vaguely unsettling narrative scenes in Victorian and Edwardian settings.  Sam and Emma earns it's place in Gorey's storytelling universe. Directed to children? Yes. For adults, yes. For Gorey fans, indeed yes. Mr. Nelsen, who is firstly a very competent painter, intended to illustrate his own story, but Gorey had already been commissioned by Parent's Magazine to do the artwork. But I wouldn't hesitate to venture that Mr Gorey found Nelsen's story to his liking, as he seems to have given Sam and Emma the extra detail, extra care. Gorey's illustrations are fanciful and full of character, and the final result is both charming and practical. 

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Read on and read always!

It's a wrap.

Have a wonderful weekend, read lots and see you back here on Monday.  Enjoy! 

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