Sam, Sara, and the Red Ball review by Rdepaola
Age Range - 8 - 12
Genre - Short Story

LitPick Review

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Age at time of review - 30
Reviewer's Location - Massapequa, NY, United States
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Sam, Sara and the Red Ball is a novel written for children between the ages of 8 and 12. Jenifer Ratliff details the day-to-day events of two rescue pets; Sam, the bunny, and Sarah, the cat, who live with their owner, Meg. When Meg learns she will be relocating for work, Sam and Sara take advantage of exploring the empty rooms and pantry while Meg packs. There is something mysterious in the back corner of the pantry that captures the attention of the pets. When Meg discovers this object, a hand carved egg, she recognizes that it is likely very valuable and plans to return it to the former homeowner, Ms. McMurtrie. Ms. McMurtrie is thrilled to have her family heirloom returned and insists on helping Meg with her move, arranging a visit to her home to be reunited with the egg. After their long journey to their new home, Sam, Sara, and Meg receive a special reward and look for the reader's help to find a use for it. 


In her descriptive writing style, Jenifer Ratliff, using omniscient narration, details the day-to-day lives of Sam the rabbit, Sarah the cat, and Meg, their owner, as they prepare for their move. The animal characters make this book enjoyable for young readers, providing a fantasy element. However, throughout the book, there is mention of several topics which seem irrelevant to the storyline. For example, the forbiddance of mixed race marriage as well as suffering from PTSD. Because the book is certainly for a younger audience, it seems inappropriate for these topics to be mentioned, with little explanation, as they do not contribute to the story. Additionally, while the ample details were helpful in visualizing the story, many of the events were redundant and could have been more impactful if condensed. I did not feel the primary conflict was developed as well as necessary to support young readers’ comprehension, which led to an anticlimactic ending. The book had several positive themes including humility and generosity, which could have been developed a bit more thoroughly to support the text. Ratliff’s character development is strong, and she depicts likable characters. 

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Content Rating:

Content rating - some mature content

Explain your content rating: 

While the overall story is appropriate for young readers, there is mention of death, mental health challenges, and segregation.



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