Sam the Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the Whole World is a picture book written and illustrated by Mo Willems. It’s somewhat of a sequel to Leonardo the Terrible Monster, which has always been one of our favorite Willems books. I preordered this book six months ago, and everybody was so excited when it finally arrived.

Sam is a little boy who is afraid of everything except for his monster friend Leonardo. One day, Sam and Leonardo meet Kerry and Frankenthaler, who are a girl and monster duo. Both children are scared, and it is quickly established that they are not afraid of the unfamiliar monster- they are afraid of the unfamiliar child. What can Leonardo and Frankenthaler do to help their kids see that they might have more in common than they thought?

Willems uses colorful but plain backgrounds to showcase his characters. By eliminating clutter, this allows the reader to focus on the body language and facial expressions, which turn out to be the source of much of the comedy. The text is rather minimal, and the illustrations end up telling some of the story far more eloquently than words.

My oldest girl is in fifth grade, and my twins are in third grade. They are getting a little old for picture books, but they will always make time for Mo Willems. They absolutely loved this book, and laughed just as loudly as they did when they were in kindergarten and preschool. The first thing they did was to look for the Pigeon. Willems hides his iconic bird in every one of his books. They also appreciated the reference to tuna salad, a throwback to Leonardo the Terrible Monster.

I would absolutely recommend Sam the Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the Whole World. This book will appeal to preschoolers as well as children in the early years of elementary school. I do think that it helps to have read Leonardo the Terrible Monster before this book, but you can still appreciate this book just as much even if you haven’t read Leonardo. This is a sweet and simple story about stepping out of your comfort zone and making new friends. This is a silly book, infused with Willems’ trademark quirky humor. We are very happy to add this to our collection of picture books.

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