Sometimes a book comes along, smacks you in the face and demands to be read and ‘Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts’ is definitely one of them. Illustrated fiction is my favourite of all the type of books I review, they are perfect for newly confident readers allowing them to gain confidence without being overwhelmed by pages of text and this one stands out from the crowd. Despite what Ralph Philip Zinkerman the Third (aka the school bully) says, Sam Wu is definitely not a scaredy-cat. Ok well maybe he is but he has to prove to Ralph that he isn’t, which requires an extreme plan of action which may or may not involve obtaining a terrifying and deadly pet as a sidekick and defeating the Ghost king once and for all. Sound easy doesn’t it? But no it really isn’t that simple!
A joy from start to finish, it’s a real treat for fans of comedy and chaos. The Tsangs have assembled a brilliant cast of characters who are engaging and entertaining. It has a really appealing interactive format with it’s zany and fun layout crammed with Nathan Reed’s superb illustrations which are filled with humorous and witty details. I have a particular soft spot for Sam’s wonderfully inquisitive sister Lucy and their evil ninja cat Butterbutt, perhaps its because I share qualities with both of these characters – only kidding I’m nothing like Lucy. This is a story which will have you laughing out loud, cringing with embarrassment and being completely perplexed as Sam and his friends try to get work out how to catch a mysterious ghost.
What makes ‘Sam Wu’ stand out for me is that it is genuinely diverse and culturally rich in a way I have seen very little representation for in this age group. Sometimes when I’m reading a book the only way I realise that the characters are diverse is through the illustrations but Sam’s cultural heritage resonates throughout this whole story without it actually being part of the plot. When Sam’s friends visit his house he worries that they may find it strange that his family eats with chopsticks and one of his favourite meals is duck and turnip cake. But this could have easily been about Sam being embarrassed about his Mum singing loudly to the radio, or wearing skinny jeans, all children inherently find their parents embarrassing for one reason or another. Diverse, hilarious and just a little bit bonkers I can’t wait to read the next adventure to find out what trouble Sam and his friends find themselves in next time.
Thank you to Egmont for sending me a copy of this fabulous book, ‘Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop. Watch out for more Sam Wu action coming soon in ‘Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Sharks’ which is released on 28th June and is available to pre-order online now.