It's almost time for Sam and Jump to find it's way onto bookstore shelves, and reviews are starting to come in.
My last memory of working on this book is sweating and fretting over all of the little things that might or might not be WRONG with it, as I finished up the last little details of the final art. And then a year passed, and I'd sort of forgotten about the book, the story, the art. And then one day very recently, one sweet copy of the real thing showed up in my mailbox, my snail mail box. And next thing I know, I am reading things like this starred review from Publishers Weekly:
Sam and his stuffed bunny, Jump, “do everything together. Because they are best friends.” But when Sam goes to the beach, he meets a boy named Thomas, and they have so much fun that Sam forgets all about Jump when he leaves. Luckily, Thomas doesn’t. With its simple sentences (set in a typeface that has an understated poignancy), roundheaded characters, and softly colored watercolor-and-ink renderings, Mann’s (I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson’s Blackboard) story raises some powerful and provocative questions about loyalty, responsibility, and friendship. Was Sam being thoughtless or even disloyal when he put Jump aside to play with Thomas? On the other hand, Jump is a toy—perhaps even a “baby toy”—and Thomas is a real peer who seems like he’d make a very good friend (and proves it when he rescues the forgotten Jump). Doesn’t Thomas have a greater claim on Sam’s attention? Mann splits the difference in the end, but both adults and kids should find this ostensibly unassuming story offers significant food for thought. Ages 3–7. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (May)
And this really nice review from Kirkus:
When a small boy forgets his precious stuffed rabbit at the beach, he fears the worst.
“Best friends” who “do everything together,” Sam, a white boy, and his stuffed rabbit, Jump, go to the beach, where they meet a black boy named Thomas. They play together all day. When he gets home, Sam realizes he’s left Jump at the beach. His mother promises they will return to the beach in the morning, but Sam can’t eat dinner or enjoy his bedtime story and spends the night imagining terrible things happening to Jump. In the morning, Sam can’t find Jump anywhere at the beach and “nothing was fun” without him. Then Thomas returns carrying the missing Jump, and all’s well. Sweet, endearingly simple illustrations created with pencil, watercolor, and “digital magic” judiciously use white space to focus attention on inseparable Sam and Jump sharing tea, soaping up in the tub, and sitting side-by-side on a tree branch and in an overstuffed chair. Following Jump’s abandonment, murky, blue-gray backgrounds emphasize Sam’s sadness, isolation, and fear, while Sam’s solitary figure on the beach echoes his loneliness and loss, reprieved later in the silent hug of his reunion with Jump.
Kids with their own favorite toys will identify with this gentle, tender tale of Sam and Jump’s special bond. (Picture book. 3-7)
It's all a little strange. And wonderful. And makes me a little teary, because I get that way.
And I am SO grateful.