Book Review: Sam Is Not a Loser

Author: Thierry Robberecht
Illustrator: Philippe Goossens
Interest Level: Ages 5-8

About This Book: Sam loves to play games—but he doesn’t like to lose. So when his soccer team is playing against a team of bigger kids, Sam decides not to play. But if he doesn’t even play, how can he ever win?

But I won't play if I'm not going to win.
I was so angry I knocked over the game and ran to my room.

Given the popularity of children’s sports, especially soccer, this is a timely topic. It’s handled here with the gentle humor, fresh feel, and relatable characters that this author/illustrator team has become known for, and the adorable art and bright colors are right on target for the very young audience.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: The title, Sam Is Not a Loser, made me think this book might be about name calling or bullying. But it is all about sportsmanship. Three cheers! Hip Hip Hooray! I cheer because my shelf only holds a few picture books on sportsmanship. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of good ones out there. So here's why I dig this one - Sam does not like to lose, ever! Know any kids like that? Adults? Oh, I do! Plenty of them. Just come out to any recess and you will see a handful of kids participating in all kinds of unsportsmanlike behavior. Kids feel like they are failures when they lose, forgetting that it's the effort that counts - and that they tried. When kids play games or sports there are so many teachable moments from fairness, cooperation, to hardwork. Sam is Not a Loser is another tool to teach kids how to lose with grace and win with humility. This is a sportsmanship book that belongs on your shelf.

PS. Remember, good sports starts with us (the adults)!

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