Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Somewhat True Adventures of Sammy Shine

The Somewhat True Adventures of Sammy Shine

Henry Cole
For ages 8 to 10
Peachtree Publishers, 2016   ISBN: 978-1561458660

Sammy Shine the mouse has spent his whole life living with Henry and his family. His home is a comfortable shoe box full of sawdust, and he is perfectly happy with this arrangement. However, Hank’s big brother Jimmy has big plans for himself and Sammy. Jimmy has built a beautiful little plane, the Spirit of Sammy, that can be controlled using a homemade remote control. Jimmy wants to put Sammy in the plane and fly him around, but Henry is afraid that the plane might crash and he refuses to allow Jimmy to use his mouse as a passenger in the plane, which infuriates Henry.

It turns out that Jimmy is not the kind of person who gives up easily. The morning after the brothers fight about using Sammy as a guinea pig, Jimmy fires up the Spirit of Sammy. Henry hears the engine noise and he goes to check on his pet. Sammy is not in his shoebox. Jimmy has stolen Sammy and put him on the plane! Henry is furious and he runs outside to confront his brother. Before Henry can stop him, Jimmy launches the plane. Unfortunately, Jimmy then steps on the remote control and he breaks it. The plane is no longer under his control and it disappears into the morning sky.

Luckily Sammy happens to be a very intelligent mouse, and he quickly learns how to use the simple controls in the plane. Pulling on a bar makes it go left or right, and pushing or pulling a lever makes it go up and down. Sammy is starting to feel comfortable with the whole thing when an arrow on the small gauge in the cockpit points towards an E and then the plane starts to lose power. Soon after the plane crashes in some woods.

When Sammy comes to his senses he is lying in the cockpit of the plane. He climbs out and finds himself in a woodland world full of plants and animals that he has never seen before. Soon a group of field mice arrive and they take him to their home and their leader. The mice think that Sammy is very special because he came to their home in a flying “mechanical bird,” which surely must be magical.

Sammy really likes the kindly field mice and is enjoying their company when Mustela, a cruel power-hungry weasel, appears on the scene. He has heard about the plane and its pilot and he wants Sammy and the Spirit of Sammy for himself. Mustela wants to take over the land that the mice have historically claimed as their own, and if he has the plane he might be emboldened enough to try to seize it.

Sammy and Phoebe, one of the field mice, go to find the wrecked plane and discover that it is gone. They are afraid that Mustela has stolen it and it is decided that the best thing to do is to send someone to talk to Goggles, a raccoon who is a gifted mechanic and inventor. It is likely that he has heard about where the plane is being kept.

Sammy sets off to talk to Goggles, who lives a day’s journey to the west of the place where the field mice live. Sammy is afraid of what might lie ahead but he sets off anyway. He has to try to get the Spirit of Sammy back before Mustela tries to use it. In addition, without the plane Sammy will never get back to Henry and his nice, safe shoebox home.

The journey to find Googles is full of surprises, the biggest of which is that Sammy meets some interesting animals who decide to join him on his quest. For the first time in his life Sammy has friends, and the experience is both peculiar and delightful.

This charming tale takes young readers on an adventure full of colorful characters and interesting plot twists. Sammy and his new friends are instantly likeable. Throughout the book readers will find beautiful illustrations, which complement and enrich the story.