The summing up statement at the beginning of this story introduces this multimodal reader effectively "This is my book...it is a collection of lists, stories, pictures, questions and facts. It is also my story".
Sam is 11 years old and has leukaemia. He is also a fun-loving, intelligent boy with a zest for trying to cram a list of experiences into the short time that is left before he dies.
This story folllows him in his fulfillment of his list of things he wants to do, in such a funny and unsentimental way, that I couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry on many of the pages (of course, I was already sniffling by the time I had gotten to page 2, anyone who knows me, knows I am a complete wimp). The power lies in the fact that Sam is unsentimental, not much mush, even though the actual events and stories are emotionally highly charged. His pleasure and awareness of everyday small things that most people take for granted is evident throughout, for example in the thrill of sunshine, snow or a simple thing like seeing a clear sky during a powercut.
In terms of genuine quality this was a winner. Stories that seem completely real and genuine are a bit of a rarity, but this was one I had trouble with, I just found it difficult to believe someone had written this and dreamed it up (I had a similar experience with 'Life of Pi'). Having said that, there are probably plenty of 'Sams' out there, who feel this is their story. I'm making everyone old enough in the house read this one. A big thumbs up for the author- did I mention it's the winner of the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize 2008? What a super read!