Sam, Bangs & Moonshine

by Evaline Ness

Hardcover, 1966



Call number




Holt, Rinehart and Winston (1966), Weekly Reader Edition


Relates the experiences of a little girl as she learns to tell the difference between makebelieve and real life.

User reviews

LibraryThing member paroof
Wow, this book is great! I know it's 30 years old, but it's such a classic! The illustrations, which won it the Caldecott medal, are beautiful yet distinctly 1960ish. The story however, just captures you. I think it's perfect for a 5-6 year old but possibly a little too intense for a younger child
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(of course it depends on the child). A young girl, Sam, lives a richly imaginative life (mermaid mother, dragon pulled chariot, baby kangaroo...) but eventually her "moonshine" as her fisherman father calls it, brings near tragedy to her friend Thomas. Sam learns to disguish moonshine from reality.
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LibraryThing member meastwold
This a wonderful story that allows children to connect to the character of Sam, making it a great realistic fiction. Readers will easily enjoy this story and the setting; in a house by the sea.
LibraryThing member netaylor
Sam, Bangs & Moonshine is the story of a little girl named Sam, her cat Bangs, her friend Thomas, and her love of telling tall tales that her father calls 'Moonshine.' The story introduces Sam's creative moonshine tales, that at first seem innocent and creative, but become dangerous. As Sam tells a
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tall tale to Thomas that puts his life and her cat Bang's life in dander, Sam learns the difference between good moonshine and bad.
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LibraryThing member MarthaL
This is a fascinating story full of danger and suspense to share with lower elementary children. The over theme is truthfulness. Sam is a storytell, she exaggerates and sometimes lies. Her story that her mother is a mermaid and eventually leads her little friend Thomas to a place of danger when the
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tide comes in. In the end Sam learns the importance of telling the truth. A book not to be forgotten. A good discussion book for second or third graders.
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LibraryThing member aflanig1
A great story that teaches kids the difference between reality and moonshine (over exaggerating lies)
LibraryThing member AprilStull
This book is good for teaching about loneliness, honesty, imagination, forgiveness
LibraryThing member caltstatt
Sam is a young girl who likes to tell tall tales to anyone who will listen. Her father tells her she needs to learn the different between real and moonshine. She ponders what moonshine is but not for long. A neighbor boy, Thomas, believes everything Sam says and one day almost dies for her lie.
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Bangs, her cat, almost dies as well. Sam then determines the difference between real and moonshine and decides not to tell anymore tall tales.

Children could learn a very good moral to this story about lying or exaggerating and what harm it could cause.
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LibraryThing member ckarmstr1
Same loves to lie. She tells people that her deceased mother is a mermaid, and she says that Bangs her cat is a talking lion. Her father tells her that she needs to stop the moonshine and be real. A little boy, Thomas, believes everything she says. She sends him to look for her "baby kangaroo."
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Bangs goes after him because the tide will rise early. Her father goes to save them. He comes back saying that Bangs got washed away, but he was able to save Thomas. She learns the difference between real and moonshine. Bangs, thankfully, returns home. Sam learns that lying can be dangerous and physically harm others.
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LibraryThing member elpowers
Cute story, interesting pictures.
LibraryThing member JackieL1
I thought that this book was well written with an exciting story line. My reaction to this book was positive because I never knew what going to be on the next page. Ness's imaginations flows in the story as the main character has a mind full of ideas that lead to some serious troubles. Sam, the
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main character, tells exaggerated and made up stories that are referred to as 'moonshine'. This connotation is funny to the older person in saying that lies and fibbing are like moonshine: dangerous. I thought that this story was delightful with a sad part but was quickly revamped in the end with lessons learned by Sam based on her experiences in the story.

The main points of the book were to educate the reader about the dangers of lying to people. The book gave a lesson on the difference between real (truth) and moonshine (lie). Throughout the book the story line focuses on how the lies Sam tells and then the outcome of her lies. The messaged that is gained from the book is that lies can cause severe harm to others even though the individual that tells them may have no intention of getting that person or group hurt. Lies can be harmful to all those involved.
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LibraryThing member hcurrey
I did not like this book. It was scary, and while I don't believe in sheltering children from reality, this was a bit much. It could be used to teach about the importance of telling the truth, I suppose.
LibraryThing member scote23
For some reason this book hasn't been checked out in five years from my library. I don't know why. I mean, the main character's name is Samantha, called Sam, which I of course think is the best name in the world. Okay, so she makes up stories and bad things happen because of it, and I'm not super
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impressed with the pictures.

Caldecott Medal, 1967
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
The winner of the Caldecott Medal, in 1967, Sam, Bangs & Moonshine is a lovely little picture-book that follows the story of fisherman's daughter Sam (Samantha), whose penchant for telling lies - or making "Moonshine" - leads her into trouble one stormy day. Constantly making up stories - about her
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mermaid mother (her real mother is dead), her chariot drawn by dragons (the everyday rug in her house) - Sam uses the world of make-believe to cope with a reality that isn't always easy to face. But when her stories about her baby kangaroo put her young neighbor Thomas - who believes them implicitly - and her beloved cat Bangs in real danger, Sam must confront the fact that sometimes "moonshine" can hurt, as much as it helps...

Although I have read a number of folktale adaptations illustrated by Evaline Ness - Algernon D. Black's The Woman of the Wood: A Tale From Old Russia, Charles Scribner, Jr.'s The Devil's Bridge: A Legend - this was the first book both written and illustrated by Ness that I have encountered. I have to say, I am very impressed! I found the narrative to be a sensitive and moving portrait of a young girl's first encounter with true consequences (although thankfully, all ends happily!), and the illustrations - done in black and white, with color accents in brown and grayish-blue - perfectly suited to the tale, accentuating the emotion of each scene. The style here is somewhat vintage, and not something I would normally find outstanding, but somehow - here - it all works. This one definitely deserved the Caldecott, I think!
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LibraryThing member msmarymac
Summary: This is a story of a little girl with a very active imagination. Sam, short for Samantha, lives her life full of fantasy and honestly believes what she says. Everyone else knows you can’t believe anything Sam says, except for Thomas, the little boy down the street. He believes Sam when
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she says she has a baby kangaroo and stops by her house every afternoon in an attempt to see the baby kangaroo. Sam always has an excuse for why the baby kangaroo is not at home and every day Thomas goes wherever she says the kangaroo has gone in an attempt to find it. Until one day, her fancy storytelling, which her father calls moonshine, sends Thomas into danger and Sam learns that her nonsense storytelling could be dangerous. Sam learns the difference between what is real and what is moonshine.

Personal Reflection: I enjoyed this story and liked the fact that Sam had such an active imagination. As a child my son lived in a “batman world” and had a very active imagination so I can relate to the dad trying not to suffocate Sam’s imagination but at the same time trying to help her see that fiction is fun but truth is necessary. Sometimes children find it difficult to separate what is real and what is “moonshine”.

Classroom Extension: (minimum of 2)
1. This would be a great story to teach children about telling the truth.
2. This could be used in conjunction with a study of Abraham Lincoln and his “honest Abe” reputation.
3. A great story to introduce fiction and non-fiction. Fiction is moonshine and non-fiction is real. Moonshine is fun.
4. Students could also draw pictures of the baby kangaroo in its various locations since we don’t really see the baby kangaroo until the very end, and even then it’s not really a baby kangaroo.
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LibraryThing member lizzydelg
This book is about a little girl and her cat Bangs. The little girl likes to lie and tell tales but none elides her but her friend Thomas. The little girls dad tells her she needs to learn the difference between Moonshine and real. So the little girl has to figure it out and she finally
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does. Moonshine is lies and fake stuff and real is what's real in her life.

Personal Reaction:
I love this book because not everyone realizes what lying can do to people and how it can affect their lives. Lying plays an important role in everyday life. This book should help children realize not to lie.

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1. Have the children write down what they think the difference is between Moonshine and Real
2. Draw what their own cat looks like, or if they do not have one then create their own pet cat.
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LibraryThing member ecarlson2014
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age: Kinder-5th
Summary: This book tells the story of a young girl who has a vivid imagination and how she must learn the difference between the truth and stories.
LibraryThing member MrsLee
As a child with a very active imagination, and a propensity for telling tall tales, I was given this book. It is a lovely story of a little girl finding out how to balance imagination and truth. Still one of my favorite childhood books.
LibraryThing member wichitafriendsschool
Sam Is a Fisherman's Daughter Who Dreams Rich & Lovely Dreams, Moonshine, Her Father Says - But When Her Tall Stories Bring Disaster, Sam Learns to Distinguish Between Moonshine & Reality.
LibraryThing member BookConcierge
Sam (short for Samantha) is a fisherman’s daughter with an active imagination. She insists her mother is a mermaid, that her cat Bangs can speak, and that she had a chariot drawn by a dragon. She is so convincing that she often sends her friend Thomas in search of her pet baby kangaroo. Her
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father cautions her about her tall tales, but it takes a near disaster to wake her up to the dangers of spinning “moonshine.”

This is a lovely cautionary short story. Sam is a bright, inquisitive, and imaginative young girl. She learns a hard lesson, but she’ll be a better person for having learned it.

I really liked Ness’s drawings, for which she won the Caldecott Medal. The almost monochromatic palette helps give a sense of Sam’s loneliness and regret.
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LibraryThing member MeaghanRyan
I used this book to kick off a whole project curriculum in my class. We talked about "moonshine" and what is good moonshine, and what is bad moonshine. We made up "moonshine" pets- as Sam, the main character, has several. We drew them, painted them, and wrote descriptions about their habitats! In
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general I love the concept of moonshine and talking about it with young children- its super helpful in navigating both literacy and social-emotional learning!
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LibraryThing member EdenSteffey
I loved this book when I was little and still do!


Caldecott Medal (Medal Winner — 1967)

Original publication date

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