Sometimes the best ideas come from collaboration. The junior fiction Sam Wu series is a lively and fun introduction to chapter book fiction for newly emergent readers. Featuring a truly funny main character in Sam Wu, with a loveable and realistic family including younger, and more confident, little sister Lucy, and wise grandma NaNa, this depiction of a Chinese family is refreshing and comes from author experience. Katie and Kevin Tsang have developed their winning main character and his group of friends in three books now, as Sam and companions lurch from adventure to adventure. In Sam Wu is Not Afraid of the Dark by Katie and Kevin Tsang, illustrated by Nathan Reed, Sam and his friends take a camping trip away from Lucy and NaNa, but the book roots itself firmly within Sam’s tight friendship group. The Tsang author team showcase the magnificence of children’s imaginations, as more often than not Sam and his friends make their own adventures by imagining the scarier elements of life, all the time remaining within the safe sphere of their childhoods. With dynamic type and graphics, illustrations on almost every page, and lots of jokes, this is a great little series to enthuse young readers for chapter books.
A camping trip is a marvellous way to explore the bridge between childhood security and their growing independence, and as with Pamela Butchart’s There’s a Werewolf in my Tent, Sam and his friends imagine all the horrors that might come up to their tent in the dark. They also take a brave trip to a cave, and attempt to stay awake all night around the campfire in order to see off any nasty creatures or aliens that might share the woods with them. In the end, of course, all creepy noises are easily explained, and Sam Wu lives to breathe another day. Here, Katie and Kevin interview each other to explore the enjoyable elements of Sam Wu, their enthusiastic banter indicative of the fun, energy-filled dialogue within the book:
KATIE AND KEVIN INTERVIEW
Katie: I’m excited to interview each other!
Kevin: Me too!
Katie: I’ll go first. What are you most afraid of?’
Kevin: Sharks!! Researching for SAM WU IS NOT AFRAID OF SHARKS was very scary. But I also think sharks are awesome!
Katie: You really are very afraid of sharks.
Kevin: Okay, my turn. In SAM WU IS NOT AFRAID OF GHOSTS, Sam serves his friends Chinese food. What Chinese dish would you serve your friends?
Katie: I wish I was better at cooking Chinese food! I would probably take them to a Chinese restaurant. We’d either go out for dim sum (one of my favourites!) or to Sichuan (super spicy!) or for Peking duck. Like Sam, I love roast duck!
Katie: I’m stealing your excellent question that you asked me about what Chinese food I’d serve my friends. What would you serve?
Kevin: I’d take them for Peking Duck, like Sam! And I’d also make them try turnip cake.
Katie: I don’t believe that you’d make them try turnip cake
Kevin: That is just because you don’t like it.
Katie: Sometimes I do! It just isn’t my favourite.
Kevin: Speaking of favourites, who is your favourite character in Sam Wu?
Katie: Lucy is my secret favourite. I love how brave and bold she is. It was important that we portrayed positive sibling relationships. I also love NaNa.
Kevin: I have to admit, my favourite character is SAM.
Katie: Well, what is your favourite part about writing Sam Wu?
Kevin: Working with you!
Katie: Other than that, because that is obvious.
Kevin: I love seeing Nathan’s illustrations! He’s SO good. And the design team at Egmont is amazing too.
To buy a copy of Sam Wu is Not Afraid of the Dark, click here.