By Lois Lowry
Hmh Books for Young Readers, Hardcover, 9780395973936, 160pp.
Publication Date: September 27, 1999
It's Future Job Day at Sam's school, and Sam knows exactly what he wants to be when he grows up-a zookeeper, just like Zookeeper Jake in his favorite picture book. His mother and big sister, Anastasia, help Sam create a memorable costume-so memorable that Sam insists on wearing it long after Future Job Day has passed and the rest of his classmates are back in their regular clothes. Encouraged by Mrs. Bennett, his teacher, Sam embarks on a lengthy project to teach his preschool class about a zookeeper's responsibilities, and along the way learns just how difficult a job teaching is. As always, the patient and loving Krupnik family stands by as Anastasia's irrepressible little brother struggles with a set of nearly impossible goals. Children will delight in this latest story featuring the precocious and irresistible Sam.
It's Future Job Day at Sam's nursery school, and not only has his mom made him a "Zooman Sam" jumpsuit, his sister Anastasia has acquired for him a whole mess of sports caps with such fitting logos as Tigers and Cubs. In a class filled with future firefighters, Sam's zookeeping aspirations really stand out, and he's especially thrilled when his teacher tells him he can wear a different cap each day and tell the other children about each animal: "For six weeks he could stand in front of the circle and feel that feeling of being the most interesting person in the room." This is a slender thread on which to hang an entire novel, but Lowry spins interesting variations on her theme, and the book ends with a swell (and well-prepared) surprise. Sam remains every middle-grader's little brother; parents, too, will be amused.
"For Future Job Day' at Sam Krupnik's nursery school, the four-year-olds have been instructed to dress up as representatives of their desired profession. Sam doesn't want to be a fireman, as do all the other boys in his class. Instead he wants to be somebody important, somebody interesting, somebody more than ordinary,' a secret concept he privately and quite marvelously dubs the Chief of Wonderfulness.' With the assistance of his impossibly even-tempered mother and ever-helpful sister, Anastasia, Sam dresses up in a spiffy homemade zookeeper's costume. Sam's teacher allows Sam to tell his class about a different zoo animal every day, a privilege that he finds both thrilling and challenging. The plotting is leisurely, the story is slender, and a subplot about the training of the family dog barely registers. This cast of familiar characters isn't as vibrant as usual, and the material runs out of steam before the novel ends. Fans of the Sam books may find satisfaction in the nicely foreshadowed but still unanticipated punch line." Kirkus Reviews