Hilarious and Addictive: SAM WU IS NOT AFRAID OF THE DARK (Cybils Nominee)

Thank you Sterling Publishing for the review copy of SAM WU IS NOT AFRAID OF THE DARK. And congrats to Katie & Kevin Tsang on your Cybils nomination for this hilarious chapter book. 

Sam Wu (having proven to us already that he isn’t afraid of ghosts or sharks, after arch nemesis Ralph apparently started those rumors about him earlier in the series) takes on the dark. He keeps his eyes on the prize, reminding himself to be brave like his hero Captain Jack from the often-referenced TV show Space Blasters. 

WhenHis BFF Bernard invites Sam to go camping, Sam almost gets out of it… he all but admits it’s because he’s… well…. ahem.

The camping trip starts off comedically bad, with Sam having to not only go camping, but bring pompous know-it-all older cousin Stanley (visiting from Hong Kong) with him. As if the dark and threat of alien, zombie, werewolf, and zombie werewolf attacks weren’t bad enough: 

Ralph and his family are there too, but with way cooler tents, and of course are great friends with Bernard’s dad. 

Regardless, with an endless supply of potential ghosts, vampires, bats, and vampire bats on the loose, the kids have no choice but to team up together. Sam’s wild imagination and over-the-top antics, plus the hilarious plot twists and turns, make for an edge-of-the-seat, laugh-out-loud read.


  • This book is third in a series, that you can follow without reading in order. 
  • Sam owns to being jealous of and irritated by Ralph, but is aware of his own feelings and shows concern for Ralph’s safety (against a potential zombie werewolf attack) anyway. 
  • Nathan Reed’s exaggerated, comic book-style illustrations are amazing and really play up Sam’s larger-than-life voice and narrative. 

Loved but Caveat

  • The book design on Sam Wu is beyond impressive. While the idea of the “staying up all night scenes” being white text on black pages is brilliant, it wasn’t easy on my eyes. I don’t recommend reading it in the midst of a migraine. 

Also, clocking in at 205 pages, I’d have classified this as more middle grade than chapter book. 


  • It’s not central to the story, but Sam Wu’s family is from Hong Kong. 

SAM WU IS NOT AFRAID OF THE DARK is available now from Sterling.

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