You Can Do It, Sam by Amy Hest & Anita Jeram

You Can Do It, Sam by Amy Hest & Anita Jeram
(And now D encourages me by saying, "You can do it, Mummum!" especially when he sweetly asks me to help clean up after him.)

Holding within its pages a simple story about a little bear Sam and his mother Mrs. Bear baking cakes to deliver to their friends on Plum Street, this book fast became D’s favourite a few weeks ago.

There’s a lot in this book that was already familiar territory to D when he started reading it. A child and his mother, a green pick-up truck, a white dog peeping from the window of a house on Plum Street, the big, white moon, the oven (“Oven, not Owen”, as D likes to say, referring to Owen from Thomas & Friends), a purple car parked outside a house, a little swing in front of another, snow and snow boots and a snowman, a red fox, Sam delivering the cakes “all by himself”, Mrs. Bear kissing Sam, and of course the cakes!

This is the book that taught D how to whisper. Sam “whispers” to his mum (or the cakes?) that he simply cannot wait for the cakes to be ready. I read out that bit of dialogue with an exaggerated whisper. Now that D knows to whisper, he has taken to whispering “Old MacDonald had a farm” whenever he wants me to wake up or wants to delay going to bed and I am fast asleep beside him!

D is also quite taken by the fact that Sam gets to ride shotgun in the green pick-up truck. “Banimashi,” he points out delightedly. There’s a little backstory to this. After every car journey, when we come back home and KrA parks the car, D clambers out of his car seat in the back and heads to the driver’s seat where he fiddles with the controls for a bit before trooping into home. KrA used to ask D if he intended to do “badmashi”, a word in Hindi for mischief. And D would reply with an emphatic “Yes”. He pronounces the word as “banimashi”, and mostly associates it with the endearing curiosity involved when a child in a car sits in the front. Off late, D has been fascinated with the mirrors in the visors, and the two of us play peekaboo with each other’s mirror images, me in the backseat and D in the front.

This is also the book that got D to pronounce “twelve”. Up until now, his string of numbers comprised a breezy rendition of 1 to 10, then 13, 14 … 17, 18, 19, ten-teeeeeen! Any of the teens were included or dropped at will. But 11 and 12 never featured in his list. Until this book came along. Because Sam and Mrs. Bear bake 12 cakes and put them in 12 red bags.

Best dedicates this story to a “Sam” and recalls a once-upon-a-time walk in deep snow on Broadway. Jeram dedicates the story to someone she addresses as the “Queen of Cakes”. The delightful mysteries that shape up a story from the shadows that the reader can never peer into remain an endless source of wonder for me.

The one thing that I find most endearing is D’s demand that the pick-up truck go “uphill and down, up and down” as the story reads.
“Pick-up truck* moving?” he asks me. “Yes, it’s moving, sweetie.” “Parked. Not moving,” he points out correctly. “Well, you are right. It’s meant to be moving but in the picture it appears that is not. That’s because it is a picture.”

“Baby go do swing,” he points to the swing outside a house on Plum Street in the book. “Well, we can’t go to this swing, sweetie. We’ll have to go to stone park or wood chip park if you want to swing.” “Baby go this one,” he points to the image in the book again. “Well, you can’t go into that one, sweetie. It’s a picture.” “Hmmm.”

I think we need a bit of Rowling magic so that all of D’s books can have moving pictures, and a bit of Narnia magic for him to be able to slip into pictures and picture books and out whenever he fancies.

*He used to pronounce it as “pick-up-puth" but somewhere between the writing of the first draft of this post and its appearance on the blog today, he moved on to "pick-up-truck". When and how did that happen?