Samantha on a Roll

Written by Linda Ashman, Illustrated by Christine Davenier
Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG/Macmillan, 2011. 978-0374363994

Reviews & Honors

A New York Times Notable Children’s Book

Bank Street College of Education’s “Best Children’s Books of the Year” List, 2012

2012 Charlotte Zolotow Awards “Highly Commended” Book

“A memorable first skate by an irresistible imp.” —Starred Review, Kirkus

“Full of humor, action and ‘70s-style roller skates.” —The New York Times

“The rhyming text makes this delightful story tons of fun to read aloud.” —School Library Journal

“Davenier’s characteristically loose artwork generates a sense of exuberance, motion, and old-fashioned fun, well-suited to Ashman’s lively verse.” —Publishers Weekly

“[T]his one, with its clever and perfect rhymes, is such a pleasure to read.” —Booklist

“With its classic story arc, its sustained humor, and its light-as-air verse, this is an audience pleaser readers will want to take for repeat rides.” —The Horn Book

“Doing it, getting away with it, getting home: sweet.” —Chicago Tribune

About this Story

“No, Samantha. Not today.
Please, go put those skates away.
You’re still too small.
You don’t know how!
And I can’t help you — not right now.”

That’s Mama speaking. And, no, Samantha isn’t about to wait for her. So, while her mother is busy with other things, Sammy straps on the skates, takes a spin around the house, then ventures outside. She’s rolling along quite happily . . . until she reaches the top of Hawthorn Hill. Then she starts going downhill. Fast.

Uh, oh.

This is a true story. Except that, instead of a little girl, the main character was a preteen boy. And instead of roller skates, it was a skateboard. And instead of a skateboard ramp at the bottom of the hill, there were railroad tracks. And instead of the kite which lifts Sammy aloft, thereby avoiding disaster, there was . . . disaster.

Yep, nearly 40 years ago, my husband Jack was zooming down a rather long and steep hill on his skateboard. He couldn’t stop, and didn’t particularly want to wind up on the railroad tracks at the bottom. So, lacking better options, he jumped off. This was before the days of helmets and pads, mind you. Luckily he lived to tell the story (he’s got the scars to prove it).

And, all these years later, I got a book out of it. So, many thanks to Jack for the inspiration. I’m also grateful to Melanie Kroupa, who acquired the story before leaving FSG, and to Margaret Ferguson for her excellent editorial advice — I’m so pleased to be on the inaugural list of her new imprint. And I’m particularly grateful to the wonderfully talented Christine Davenier for her oh-so-charming illustrations and, especially, her spunky Samantha.

Illustrations copyright 2011 by Christine Davenier. Margaret Ferguson Books/Farrar Straus and Giroux.