Kirkus Reviews QR Code
SAM AND BEN by Sylvia Pagán  Westphal


by Sylvia Pagán Westphal & illustrated by Nicole Gsell & developed by Pinwheel Books

Age Range: 2 - 5

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 2012
Publisher: Pinwheel Books

A familial story of similarity and difference, as seen through the lens of twin boys.

Sam and Ben may have been in their mama’s belly at the same time, but they’re distinct individuals in many ways. Sam is blond, Ben’s hair is brown; Sam loves building things, while Ben prefers playing soccer; they even laugh differently. But they also have a lot in common: Both of them love music, cars, bugs and—interestingly enough—fashion. Most importantly they have the same siblings and parents that encourage their individuality. This story does a lovely job addressing the identity challenges inherent in being a twin, embracing the similarities between the boys while simultaneously celebrating their differences. The watercolor-like illustrations are whimsical and bright, yielding basic movement or sound effects when touched. Narration can be switched off, but turning the volume down entirely is the only way to kill the music (a shame since it also silences the sound effects). The activities screens offer basic, toddler-friendly games like coloring and matching. If readers want to revisit earlier pages or go back to the beginning from somewhere in the story, it must be done manually (and sluggishly), as there’s no “home” button or page-selection option, except on the opening screens.

A sweet story that won’t rock the app world, but will still appeal to many readers (especially twins). (iPad storybook app. 2-5)