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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Santos is a sallamong. What is a sallamong? I asked myself the same question but, after reading this delightful and very colorfully illustrated children's book, I realized that it really didn't matter what a sallamong is. It's the story that matters and the message within the story. You see, Santos has just turned 10. He is growing up and, like all sallamongs, Santos is outgrowing his clothes (in this case, his skin). He is very worried about shedding his skin. Actually, he is very worried about a lot of things as there are some unsettling events happening in his world. He seeks out his grandmother for help and understanding and, with her help, he realizes that the changes and difficulties around him and the shedding of his skin will not change who he really is. Santos will always be Santos, no matter what he looks like, no matter how difficult life becomes. And, most importantly, Santos will always be loved by his family and his friends.
This is a very lighthearted, easy-to-read picture book/early chapter book, that allows young readers to share in Santos's uncertainty and to learn with him that we are all unique and important and beautiful in our uniqueness. At a time when so many young people look critically at themselves, even at the very young age of 10, Mona Roper has written a story that helps us all, young and old, to understand the importance of being ourselves, just like Santos came to understand in the end. As Santos sings his little song, we can all agree, "I’ve always been me, I’ll always be me."