Sammy Claws: The Christmas Cat by Lucy Rowland and Paula Bowles
Sammy Claws is Santa's cat who longs to help out with his owner's annual deliveries, but is a little disorganised and clumsy. Sammy loves to nap but tends to oversleep. When he dozes off in an empty box on Christmas Eve, he is mistaken for a present, gift-wrapped and loaded on to Santa's sleigh.
Sammy wakes up startled and disoriented, but for once his timing is perfect. He rescues Santa's sleigh from a pair of crooks with nefarious intentions. Sammy saves Christmas and proves he's more than capable of being Santa's companion on the most important night of the year.
Sammy Claws the Christmas Cat rhymes the whole way through and is a lovely, lively, warm and affectionate story. Sammy is an adorable and endearing character and the furriest, cuddliest-looking cat I've ever seen. The first time we read this, my three-year-old asked if we could get a cat like Sammy (I wish!). We already have one but he's nowhere near as fluffy or friendly (and I don't think he'd be much good at apprehending criminals either).
Sammy's expressions are priceless, especially when he wakes up and realises he is trapped in a box. Just like a real cat, he enjoys napping in unsuitable places. Sammy looks very content while asleep on top of Santa's shoes and slippers and it's hilarious to see his little tail emerge from the gift-box he is trapped in.
Imaginative illustrations take us behind the scenes at the North Pole and give us a candid view of everything that's going on. There are machines like the "i.wrap.5000" and the "ribbon-o-matic" and a conveyer belt-like structure that moves the presents along and places them on the sleigh. There's an apparatus similar to a petrol pump that's full of magic dust to fuel Santa's flight.
We see elves on walkie-talkies and with clipboards doing quality control checks, while some more wear eye coverings to test the brightness of Rudolph's nose. Reindeer are groomed and there's an "elf and safety" manager who springs into action as soon as Sammy knocks over some shelves.
The images are incredibly detailed; no character is ever merely in the background, they're all animated and engaged. While technically stationary and waiting for Santa to climb down a chimney, the reindeer are all doing different things. Even the animals Santa's sleigh glides over are involved in the action and are shown in different positions on the flight home.
Santa's home looks extremely quaint and cosy with its blazing stove, glowing lanterns and wooden shutters with snowflakes carved on them. Santa and Sammy's knitted socks, scarves and slippers all add to the snug and inviting atmosphere. I love Santa's braces and the waving lucky cat ornament on top of his bookshelf.
Paper chain decorations hang from the ceilings and we see a book open with instructions on how to make them. These are an especially nice touch as children will recognise them and will probably have made themselves at home or at school.
This is our second book by this fantastic author and illustrator team. We also have Wanda's Words Got Stuck and it's gorgeous too. Lucy Rowland has years of experience of working with young people. This valuable insight has helped Lucy to write brilliant stories that captivate and connect with children. Paula Bowles' illustrations are intricate, amusing and absolutely magical; my kids love her artwork - and so do I. If you love cats and love Christmas, you can't go wrong with Sammy Claws!
Title: Sammy Claws the Christmas Cat
Author: Lucy Rowland
Illustrator: Paula Bowles
Publisher: Nosy Crow