Just As You Are: The Story Of Leon And Sam


A long time ago, Leon (a dog) got lost from his Mom and Dad. One day, Sam (a boy) was delivering mail to the sea creatures, when he spotted this lonely, frightened dog. Instantly they knew they liked each other. But then they started worrying. What if Sam didn't like the way Leon slept? or Leon decides he wants to go home and leaves Sam? Does that end their friendship?

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Colorful illustrations, a boy, and his dog, combine for a story about friendship.

Content Awareness Factors:

Although a boy-and-his-dog make for great stories, kids who only see dogs as pets may not connect with the message that friends worry about staying friends.

Little Kid Reaction

Our listener thought Leon was cute. She liked the pictures where Leon and Sam are doing things together. Then she asked if she could have a dog! There wasn't a lot of interest in rereading this one.

Parent Reaction

Leon and Sam add something new to the idea of friendship. Most books focus on sharing and manners, this one surfaces that sometimes we are afraid of losing friends. The adoption theme is muted, but the idea of a dog needing a family and love lasting forever are definitely there. I like how it spells out each character's worries in words they would use. The rhyming and varied sizes of text, however, got to be a distraction. There were times you were expecting a rhyme to match but then it didn't. The illustrations help make up for that. They are clever, humorous, and expressive.

Type of Book:
This rhyming story helps kids understand that friends like each other for who they are.
Educational Themes:

Use this story with preschoolers and Kindergartners to talk about friendship. The story also offers opportunities for self reflection: what are the things about you that make you a good friend? What are the things that sometimes get in the way of being a good friend?

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
6 to 8
Recommended Age To Read Together:
2 to 6
Age of child:
Read with a 5-year-old girl.
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow. The illustrations carry this book, and sometimes its fun just to look at the pictures.

Title Just As You Are: The Story of Leon and Sam
Author Nancy Freeman Marks
Publisher Wave Publishing © 2003
Illustrators Su Jen Buchheim
ISBN 0972243011
Material Hard Cover
Cost $15.00
Genres Family - Adoption, Emotions and Feelings, Friendship
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