This Is Sadie by Sara O’Leary

Meet Sadie. Sadie isn’t your typical little girl. She isn’t even your typical little-girl-with-a-big-imagination. In fact, the reader has a hard time figuring out who Sadie is, exactly, because she is so many things. She’s into so many things. She does so many things.

When we first meet Sadie, we see the literal Sadie: a girl with wispy-straight hair inside a simple, old cardboard box. But “no,” Sadie tells us. “I’m on an enormous boat, crossing a wide, wide sea.”

And so we readers of This is Sadie begin to get a glimpse of the first side of this unique character, the one whose head is filled with an imagination almost as vivid and brilliant as illustrator Julie Morstad can create. She imagines she is sailing at sea, lives under the water as a mermaid, has wings that help her fly over her neighborhood. Sadie’s not one to be pinned down by any one description—we need many of these amazing snapshots of her to understand who she is

What I love most about her is that she creates imaginary worlds for herself as either a boy or a girl—no need to follow any gender rules here. I love that Sadie provides for little girl readers the chance to also be the hero in a fairy tale world and a boy raised by wolves.

The book has no plot; its main goal, it seems to me, is to invite young readers (especially girls) to step outside their normal real-life and imagine themselves as something different. Maybe something bigger, maybe something smaller. Maybe someone more playful or more adventurous than they really are. And by trying on these different roles or personalities, maybe your little girl will discover that’s there is more than meets the eye to herself.

The book ends as it begins—with that big cardboard box. This time Sadie is in a homemade tent, with crafts all around her and books stacked up to read—no iPad or TV or parental direction needed for this girl! And the big box symbolizes all the possibilities. On the first page that big box was a boat. On the last, it is a snail shell, and Sadie is snoozing away under it, perhaps dreaming of her next adventure.

This is a gorgeous book—Julie Morstad is an extraordinary artist. I’m not sure if young readers will appreciate the details that make each page worthy of serious pause and attention, but they’ll grasp the feel of the picture immediately. The words are fine (a teensy bit random, I think—without a plot I feel a little lost), but the pictures will pull in readers and help them feel a part of something much bigger than their little world.

And maybe, just maybe, the switch on their imagination will be clicked on and their afternoons will be spent as a mermaid, as a flying girl, as a sailor at sea, as a knight in shining armor.

Publisher: Tundra Books


Available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million!

MSRP: approximately $13

Ages: 3-7 years

Readability: 4

Illustrations: 5

Kept My Children’s Interest: 3

Appealed to Advertised Age:  4

I Would Purchase for My Child: Yes

I Would Purchase as a Gift:  Yes

Overall Rating: 4

All ratings on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high).

Meet the Reviewer!

Kate Schwarz is a full-time mom and wife living in Great Falls, VA. In addition to being a reader to her three small children, Kate is a writer, distance runner, Crossfitter and blogger of raising kids with books at

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