All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Sam Junior’s Day by Adam Crettenden

Sam Junior’s Day
Adam Crettenden
2017, 25p
Copy courtesy of the author

Inspired by a true story, ‘Sam Junior’s Day’ shows a typical day in the life of the ultimate routine dog.

Sam’s busy and energetic day is fun, exciting and rewarding. He is a much-loved family member who is determined to please all who meet him.

Guaranteed to make you smile.

This is a bit of a first to me – I haven’t ever reviewed a children’s book before. Plenty of YA and even the odd MG title but not a children’s book. My kids are 8 and 5 and reading is something that I’m super vigilant about. Each of them are required to read each night for school – about 20 minutes for the oldest and maybe 10 for the youngest. My oldest child has gone far beyond the levels of readers that the school sends home and is now allowed to choose his own books. Mine and his teacher’s thoughts are that we don’t really mind what he’s reading, so long as it engages him and he is reading. He has an iPad and an app on it that enables him to read eBooks and he’s also figured out that when we go to the shops, he can ask for a book and his father and I will never say no. The purchasing of books is much encouraged in this house!

My youngest, Rory started school this year and has taken to reading with gusto. He loves it. He’s reward-oriented and I think he finds it very satisfying to learn new words and accomplish something by reading. He loves bringing home readers and library books and we’ve started visiting our local community library as well and he’s become very into the whole process.

When I received this book, I immediately knew that I would read it with Rory – it’s perfect for him. The sentences are short and simple but with just enough words he didn’t already know to make him feel challenged. He needs that fine line of being able to construct the sentences himself but also learning and exploring new words.

In short, this book is about a border collie named Sam Junior who does the same things every day at pretty much the same time. He’s a little dog of routine and I think it’s something that kids can easily relate to because they tend to do a lot of things at the same time each day as well – get up, eat breakfast, get dressed for school, brush teeth, hop in the car etc. We were able to go through all of the things that Sam Junior does in his day and apply them to our day and in some cases, to the day of our cat Loki. We don’t have a dog anymore (up until the past year we had 2 stunningly tempered greyhounds) but I think a lot of animals are, to some extent, creatures of habit. Many thrive on routine and expect the same things at each time of the day. To be honest, Rory is a creature of habit himself and this book is kind of relateable for kids in many ways, even if they don’t have a dog or any sort of pet. He was able to connect the different things he does at certain times of the day with what Sam was probably doing at the same time.

I really enjoyed the illustrations in this book and Rory did too! We each have our favourites – mine is the one where Sam chases bunnies, Rory’s is the one where he receives his late night snack. The colours are bold and eye catching and border collies are beautiful dogs. But the illustrator has also captured a mischievous, people-pleasing personality too which is easy to see.

It’d be remiss of me to review a picture book without including a few thoughts from someone who fits the target audience, so I asked Rory after we’d read through it a couple times over the past few weeks, what he thought and this was what he had to say:

“I like Sam because he does funny things. My favourite part is when he gets his bone and when he says he might eat the horse’s food. I also like when he goes in the car because he sits in the front seat like a person.”

Thumbs up from both of us!


Book #41 of 2017

Check out my Author Q&A with Adam Crettenden here

Buy Sam Junior’s Day on Kindle & iBooks

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Author Q&A With…….Adam Crettenden

Today I am happy to have Adam Crettenden here for a chat. Adam is the author of two books and recently took the time to answer some of my questions on reading, writing, his career and life. Thanks Adam!

Q1. Hi Adam and welcome to my blog. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. To get us started….tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you Bree. I work full-time in the racing industry and have been a commentator for almost 25 years. I’ve done plenty of other things aside from my full-time work to make the most out of life, and writing a book seems to have been that ‘next thing’ to do.

Q2. Your first book is a non-fiction about the famous racehorse Subzero, winner of the 1992 Melbourne Cup. How exactly did that come about and what was the research and writing process like?

Subzero’s Melbourne Cup win was a turning point of my life. 1992 was the year I did a school project on the racing industry and it was the first Melbourne Cup I went to. I vividly remember the events of that day and have fortuitously encountered Subzero many times in his promotional duties in the years since. His owner, Graham Salisbury has always been keen for a book to be written and I decided to catalogue some photographs which led to some further research and from there I just carried on writing a manuscript. I loved the research and discovering the stories (many previously untold) but initially found the writing quite cumbersome because of my naivety to writing. I employed a freelance editor to work with me and I completely wrote the book three times over before I had a manuscript worth taking to a publisher.

Q3. From there you’ve expanded to writing a children’s book, Sam Junior’s Day. What gave you the idea to focus on something completely different?

A lot of Sam Junior’s Day was done before Subzero. My illustrator, Caitlin Tolsma did her work in 2015 on the project but then Subzero came along and demanded my complete attention which put the children’s book on the backburner. Sam Junior is our family border collie who is quite habitual, but a kind and playful dog who just wants to please everybody he meets. He is part of our family and it is a joy to have this book completed for him.

Q4. You’ve chosen to publish Sam Junior’s Day yourself. How have you found the process in comparison to publishing Subzero which was published traditionally with one of the “big 5 publishers”?

Completely different. Obviously, to have Penguin Random House guide me through the production of my first book was a massive help. It took away the need for me to think of printing, distributing and marketing. I could solely focus on the editing of the manuscript. Part of the Sam Junior’s Day journey was to experience the self-publishing world and I’m so glad I’ve done that because there were a number of challenges along the way and I learnt a lot about things such as formatting which is critical, depending on the platform you list on.

Q5. Having seen some different sides of publishing, what do you think is the biggest challenge as an author?

It will always be surrounding the story you are portraying. I believe Subzero was a strong enough story that it could have been written and commercially published by anyone who had the dedication and passion to write an accurate account of his life. Subzero was a strong topic, and that’s what attracted the eyes of a major publisher. As the author, I then had to produce the writing to reflect that strong topic, which was greatly enhanced by the staff at Penguin.

Q6. Are you a reader yourself? If so, what do you like to read?

I have a chuckle to myself regarding my reading habits. As a kid, I generally hated it. I was a kid who played sport and that’s all that interested me. The only book I enjoyed through my entire school life was Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell. It left such an impression on me that wrote every essay I could in Year 12 on it and making English my best subject – the one subject I never really cared about! I still have that book on my shelf today. However, as I’ve grown older, I have become a reader, particularly sports biographies. I’ve collected many Dick Francis novels over the years and since many of his stories are based on horse racing, I find them quite easy to follow his fictional plots.

Q7. What does the future hold for you, writing wise?

Not entirely sure. After Subzero was released, I thought that would allow me to move on to the ‘next thing’, but I am currently considering writing something else – can’t say too much just yet though.

Q8. And lastly for a bit of fun…..if you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you consider essential?

I’m a practical man so I’ll say a hammock, a pair of sunnies and a satellite telephone to call for the fully-fuelled speedboat whenever I’m ready to leave.


Buy Subzero from Booktopia (also available in print from good bookstores) as well as Amazon & iBooks
Buy Sam Junior’s Day from Amazon & iBooks

Check back tomorrow for my review of Sam Junior’s Day featuring a very special little guest reviewer!

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