Sam Krupnik finally gets to tell his version of life with his big sister, Lowry's popular Anastasia Krupnik.
At last Sam, Anastasia Krupnik's irrepressible little brother, gets a chance to tell his own story. From his first days at the hospital, through his Terrible Twos, to his first days at nursery school, we see what Sam is really like. But things are never quite like they seem. In the delivery room, Sam's first words, "Don't drop me," are heard only as "Waaaaahhhh!" And even though he has a perfectly logical explanation for flushing his sister's goldfish down the toilet, no one understands. From training pants to moving day to nursery school, Sam continually tries to unravel the mysteries of the world at large, facing each crisis and adventure head on and responding with his own brand of humor, candor, and naive insight.
It had certainly been an exciting morning for him, but a confusing one, too. There were bright lights, which he didn’t like, and he was cold, and someone was messing around with his belly button, which hurt.
And he didn’t know who he was yet.
“A fine healthy boy,” he heard someone say. But that told him only what he was, not who.
He squinted and wiggled and stuck his tongue out, and they all laughed. He liked the sound of the laughter, so he did it again, and they all laughed some more.
Then they put some clothes on him, which made him nice and warm, though the clothes felt odd because he had never worn clothes before.
They passed him around from one person to another, which was a little scary because he was afraid they might drop him.
“Don’t drop me,” he wanted to say. But it came out sounding like “Waaaahhhh.” Someone said “Shhhh” in a soft voice and patted his back gently.
“Who am I?” he wanted to ask, but that sounded like “Waaaahhhh” again, and she simply patted his back once more.
Finally they put him down in a little bed and dimmed the lights.
He opened his eyes wide now that the lights weren’t so bright, but he couldn’t see much: just the sides of the little bed, and high above him the blurred faces of people.
It was all too confusing and exhausting. He sighed, closed his eyes, and went to sleep.
When he woke again, he was in a different place. He was still in the little bed, but the bed had been moved; he knew because the walls were green instead of white. Now there were fewer people—fewer faces looking down at him. He could see these people a little better because his eyes weren’t quite so new, so he blinked to focus more clearly and stared up at them.
There was a woman, and he could tell that he liked her a lot. She had happy eyes and a nice smile, and when she bent closer and touched his cheek with her finger, it was a gentle touch filled with love. He wiggled with happiness.
Then the woman’s face went away, and a man leaned down. The man seemed to have his head on upside down; there was hair on the chin, but none on the head. Maybe that was the way men were supposed to look. The man had a nice smile too.
Finally, a girl leaned over the bed. She had hair the same color as the man’s chin hair, and she wore glass over her eyes, which were interesting to look at. But she wasn’t smiling. She had a suspicious look.
The girl stared at him for a long time. He stared back. Finally she reached in and touched his hand. He had his hand curled up because he hadn’t yet figured out anything interesting to do with it. But when the girl touched his hand, he grabbed her finger, which was just the perfect size for grabbing. He held on tight.
“Hey,” the girl said, “I really like him!” Of course you do, silly, he thought. He tried to say that, but only managed to spit and make a sound like “Phhhwww.”
The man and the woman had happy smiles, which they aimed at the girl.
“Does he wet his diapers a whole lot?” the girl asked the man and the woman.
Yes, he thought, I do. As a matter of fact, I am wetting them right now, right at this very moment.
“He’s only five hours old,” the woman said. “So I haven’t had time to conduct an exhaustive study. But in all honesty, Anastasia, I have to tell you that I think he will probably wet his diapers a whole lot.”
You’re right, he thought. I plan to. Because it feels good.
He yawned. They were talking to each other, but he didn’t understand what they were saying, and he was a little bored. He was sleepy, too.
Then he heard the man say, “Have you picked out his name?”
And he heard the girl say, “Of course I’ve picked out his name.”
So he tried hard to stay awake, even though he was sleepy, because he knew this was important. He blinked and yawned and wiggled and wet his diapers a little more, and waited. He waited while they murmured things to each other, which he couldn’t hear. Then, one by one, they leaned over his bed again.
The girl with the pieces of glass over her eyes peered in at him, and now she was smiling. “Hi, Sam,” she said.
The woman with the gentle voice looked down, and she said, “Hi, Sam.”
The man with his head on upside down leaned close. In his deep, pleasant voice, he said, “Hi, Sam.”
Oh, he thought happily. Now I understand. This is my family. My sister, my mother, my father.
And I am Sam, he thought, and liked the sound of it.
Sam was glad when they told him they were taking him home, because the word home sounded kind of nice, especially the way they said it to him in warm, happy voices.
But he hated the hat.
He didn’t mind the dry diapers—by now, after three days, he was quite accustomed to getting dry diapers. He liked the chance to kick his legs in the air while they changed him, and he loved the soft feeling of the powder they sprinkled on his bottom.
He didn’t mind the nightgown, though he hated it when they remembered to fold the mitten part over his hands. It was much better when they left the mitten turned back, because on each hand he had fingers and a thumb that he liked to suck when he was bored, or if they didn’t feed him quite quickly enough when he was hungry.
But today, for the first time, they put a sweater on top of the nightgown, and the sweater was scratchy. I don’t like this, he thought.
Then they put on the hat. And he hated the hat. It hurt under his chin where they tied it, and one of his ears was folded right in half inside the hat. He found the edge of the hat with one hand and tried to pull it off. They laughed and covered his hand with that terrible mitten.
I HATE THIS HAT, he yelled. But it sounded like “Waaahhhh,” and they all said “Shhhhhh” and patted his back.
I HATE THIS HAT, he yelled again, and they jiggled him up and down and kissed his cheek.
“We’re going home,” they said.
NOT WITH THIS HAT ON, Sam yelled, but they didn’t pay any attention to him, none at all. They wrapped a thick blanket around him, carried him through some doorways, down some halls, through some more doorways, and down some more halls.
"Childhood's problems and confusions have seldom been shown to better, funnier, and more sympathetic advantage." Horn Book, Starred
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