As a pet parent to three dogs (and two cats), I have a soft spot in my heart for animal books. My two kids are also obsessed with animals. As my daughter proclaims often, she loves cats and dogs! When recently offered the chance to review Surprise Sammy! It’s Your Birthday written by Cheryl McNeil Fisher with illustrations by Angel Raishevich in exchange for my honest opinion, I eagerly accepted the opportunity to add a new dog title to my home library. The paperback book currently retails for $12.95.
Currently residing in the Hudson Valley area of New York, author Cheryl McNeil Fisher is a counselor and educator who travels throughout the United States to speak about blindness and guide dogs. She has earned a four-year degree in counseling from the State University of New York as well as many education certificates. Recently she has expanded her scope of motivational and educational initiatives beyond the northeast to a nation-wide outreach. She previously wrote Cindy Lou and Sammy Too Go to the Mall: The Adventure of a Guide Dog Team.
Currently living in Blooming Grove, New York with her family, illustrator Angel Raishevich is an 11-year-old girl in sixth grade. Her hobbies include singing, dancing, and acting. Her favorite activity is drawing with pencils, and she has always wanted to illustrate a book. She teamed up with Cheryl McNeil Fisher to illustrate Surprise Sammy! It’s Your Birthday and will be collaborating with the author on another book through the coming year.
Surprise Sammy! It’s Your Birthday is the newest installment of the Cindy and Sammy story in The Adventures of a Guide Dog Team series, which chronicles the adventure of a young girl and her guide dog. The 69-page 11-chapter book tells about a surprise party with decorations, treats, gifts, and games for Sammy, who is celebrating his fourth birthday, hosted by his human and canine friends. The story is both fun and informative, offering another wonderful adventure for children to enjoy. The book even includes a recipe for dog biscuit cake.
As with the original Cindy Lou and Sammy Too Go to the Mall, Surprise Sammy! It’s Your Birthday features language geared towards proficient early readers. The story is largely written from the viewpoints of the various dogs. The chapters featuring Sammy use the first person to tell the tale from the guide dog’s point-of-view. My daughter currently reads at around a second-grade level. While she initially thought the chapter book was a bit too long, she was able to read the entire story on her own with only a little bit of help. My toddler son also enjoyed hearing me read parts of the book out loud. Therefore, although definitely written for an older audience, Surprise Sammy! It’s Your Birthday is also a good book to read with and to younger children.
What I like most about Surprise Sammy! It’s Your Birthday is the nonfiction information interwoven into the fictional story. Young readers can get into the story of a dog surprise party while learning a bit about the job of a guide dog. The illustrations also help bring the story to life. My daughter was definitely more interested in reading the chapter book because of the pictures. My son also loved pointing out the “puppy” in the illustrations throughout the book. I also love that an 11-year-old is the illustrator, which is way cool of the author!
The newest installment in The Adventures of a Guide Dog Team series, Surprise Sammy! It’s Your Birthday written by Cheryl McNeil Fisher and illustrated by Angel Raishevich is a cute fiction chapter book with nonfiction information about guide dogs tucked inside the story. I recommend the book for young readers in the earlier grades. The language is simple but still engaging for young readers, and the hand-drawn illustrations help bring specific parts of the story to life. Surprise Sammy! It’s Your Birthday is a good book for kids who love animals and for teaching more about the jobs of guide dogs.
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‘Surprise Sammy! It’s Your Birthday’ Book Review © 2017 Heather Johnson
Front Cover of ‘Surprise Sammy! It’s Your Birthday’ © 2017 Heather Johnson
Back Cover of ‘Surprise Sammy! It’s Your Birthday’ © 2017 Heather Johnson
Inscription of ‘Surprise Sammy! It’s Your Birthday’ © 2017 Heather Johnson
Illustration of ‘Surprise Sammy! It’s Your Birthday’ © 2017 Heather Johnson