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Sam the Man & the Cell Phone Plan

Book #5 of Sam the Man
Illustrated by Amy June Bates



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About The Book

Sam Graham wants a cell phone to help him with his research, but when his parents say no, he has to come up with another way to keep all the info he needs in his pocket in this hilarious fifth chapter book in the Sam the Man series from Frances O’Roark Dowell.

Here are the facts: Sam Graham is an information man. But to get information, you need to do research. You never know when you’ll need an urgent piece of info—like, say, the number for a chicken emergency hotline—so a resource for instant research is a must! This is why Sam needs a cell phone.

Unfortunately, Mom and Dad disagree. So, Sam has to come up with a plan. But what is small enough to fit in your pocket and can hold all the information you need? Sam will have to go old-school with his latest plan and use a handy notebook instead. Luckily, retro is in, and à la Nick in Andrew Clements’s Frindle, Sam might just start the latest trend!


Sam the Man & the Cell Phone Plan

Chapter One Sam “Just the Facts” Graham
Sam Graham was an information man.

In his room he had three books about chickens, seven books about monster trucks, one copy of Guinness World Records, and a comic book called Everything You Need to Know About the Solar System.

When his second-grade class went to the library, Sam helped the other kids look things up on the computer. He helped Emily find websites about bird calls, and he helped Will look up statistics on his favorite college football team. When Sam needed facts about his favorite food group, he knew the best thing to type into the search engine box was “frozen waffles history,” because if he just typed “frozen waffles,” all the hits would be commercials, and commercials never had facts in them.

Sam liked facts. He liked researching facts about interesting topics. He liked sharing the facts he learned with other people.

Which is why Sam Graham needed his very own phone.

“A phone? Why on earth does a second grader need a phone?” Sam’s mom asked when Sam told her what he wanted for his birthday. She was sitting at the breakfast table, reading the newspaper on her laptop computer.

“I like looking things up,” Sam said, taking a bite of his frozen waffle. “It would be nice if I could look up stuff while I was on the school bus or taking care of the chickens in Mrs. Kerner’s backyard. And if I had a phone and there was a chicken emergency, I could call 9-1-1.”

“You don’t call 9-1-1 for chickens, Sam the Man,” Sam’s sister, Annabelle, told him. “You’d get in trouble if you did.”

“Well, I could call you or Mom or Dad, then,” Sam said. “Or the chicken hotline.”

“Is there really a chicken hotline?” Sam’s mom asked, looking over her computer screen at Sam and Annabelle.

“If I had a phone, I could look it up and see,” Sam said.

Annabelle took out her phone from her back pocket. “I’ll check.”

“No phones at the table, Annabelle,” Sam’s mom said. “You know the rules.”

“But you have your laptop at the table,” Annabelle pointed out. “That’s almost the same as a phone.”

“In this case, my laptop is really a newspaper,” Sam’s mom said. “So it’s different.”

“If I had a phone, I could read the paper too,” Sam said. “My phone could be a newspaper or a book or an encyclopedia or a radio.”

Sam’s dad walked into the kitchen. He had his phone in his hand and was texting someone.

“And I could text you if I had to stay late for school or needed to come home because I had a stomachache,” Sam continued. “I could do a million things with a phone.”

“You’re too young for a phone, Sam the Man,” Sam’s dad said, putting his phone on the kitchen counter. “You spend too much time looking at screens as it is.”

Sam poured some more syrup on his frozen waffle. “Why isn’t Annabelle too young?” he asked.

“Annabelle is in sixth grade,” Sam’s dad said. “She has Scouts and soccer and swim team. She also has asthma, so it makes me and your mom feel better to know she can get in touch with us if she feels an attack coming on while she’s at school or a game.”

“Besides, Sam, you have lots of ways to look things up,” Sam’s mom added, closing her laptop and taking her plate to the sink. “You can use the computer in my office upstairs if I’m there to supervise, and you can always check out books from the library. You don’t need a phone to find things out.”

Sam thought about this. He knew there were lots of ways to look up facts. But he couldn’t take pictures using a book, and he couldn’t pull his mom’s computer out of his pocket if he needed to send someone a message. And what was he supposed to do if he had a chicken coop emergency? Throw eggs up into the air and hope someone came to see what was the matter?

But he could tell from their expressions that his parents weren’t going to get him a phone for his birthday, even if it was the best idea ever. The problem, Sam thought as he scrubbed syrup off his arm with his napkin, was now all he could think about was how much he wanted a phone. How much he needed a phone. How he would never be happy until the day he finally had a phone of his own.

There was only one thing to do. Sam would have to come up with a plan.

He tried to come up with one while he was brushing his teeth. Maybe he could ask Annabelle if he could rent her phone part time, even though he knew she’d probably say no. Annabelle was the kind of sister who would help you out, but she wouldn’t break the rules for you.

He could look in the school lost and found to see if anyone had lost a phone. Sure, he’d have to give the phone back to its owner, but maybe that person would be so happy that Sam had found their phone, they’d let Sam use it whenever he wanted. They might even let Sam bring it home on the weekends.

Sam liked that plan a lot, but his parents probably wouldn’t.

By the time Sam had finished brushing his teeth, put on his jacket, and walked to the bus stop, he’d thought of six different plans, but he was pretty sure none of them would work.

Sam wasn’t used to coming up with bad plans. It made him feel dumb. It was like when he played T-ball last spring and kept hitting the tee instead of the ball when it was his turn to bat.

“You look sad, Sam,” Sam’s best friend, Gavin, said when he got to the bus stop. “Did you lose something?”

Sam shook his head. “I’m trying to come up with a plan for getting a phone, but I can’t think of anything good.”

“No one in second grade has a phone,” Gavin said. “Well, Hutch did for a little while, remember? His mom put tracking devices in his jacket and lunch box because Hutch was always losing them. He was supposed to use the phone to track his lost stuff.”

“But he lost the phone,” Sam said, nodding. “I remember.”

“I don’t think you need a phone,” Gavin said. “But if you really want one, you could tell your parents you’d pay for it. You’re good at making money.”

“I still don’t think they’d let me have one,” Sam said.

“So then why are you trying to come up with a plan to get one?” Gavin asked.

Sam saw the bus coming down the street and picked up his backpack. “I don’t know. I just really want a phone.”

“I feel the same way about cats,” Gavin said, lining up with Sam for the bus. “I really, really want a cat. But I’m allergic to cats, and so is everybody else in my family. So I’m never going to have a cat, even though I want one more than anything.”

“No one is my family is allergic to phones,” Sam said. “In fact, I’m the only person who doesn’t have one. It’s not fair.”

“Life’s not fair,” Gavin said as they stepped onto the bus. “Otherwise I wouldn’t have a cat allergy.”

“I guess,” Sam said. He was about to say something else when he slipped on a piece of paper on the bus floor. He didn’t fall, but he did bump into the boy in front of him.

The boy turned around and said, “Watch it!” He was carrying a box, which he showed to Sam. “I made a robot for the third-grade science fair, and I don’t want to break it.”

“Sorry,” Sam said. He wished he could peek inside the box to see what the boy’s robot looked like. He wondered if it would be hard to make a robot, one that walked and talked and did all kinds of interesting things. Maybe next year Sam would make his own robot for the science fair.


Sam turned around to Gavin. “I’ve got it! I’ve come up with a plan!”

“What is it?” Gavin asked.

“I’m going to make my own phone!” Sam told him. “It’s going to be great!”

“Make a phone?” Gavin sounded confused. “How do you make a phone?”

Sam shrugged. “I don’t know. But I know how to look it up.”

If there was one thing Sam was good at, it was looking things up.

About The Author

Photograph (c) Clifton Dowell

Frances O’Roark Dowell is the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of Dovey Coe, which won the Edgar Award and the William Allen White Award; Where I’d Like to BeThe Secret Language of Girls and its sequels The Kind of Friends We Used to Be and The Sound of Your Voice, Only Really Far AwayChicken BoyShooting the Moon, which was awarded the Christopher Award; the Phineas L. MacGuire series; Falling InThe Second Life of Abigail Walker, which received three starred reviews; Anybody Shining; Ten Miles Past NormalTrouble the Water; the Sam the Man series; The ClassHow to Build a Story; and most recently, Hazard. She lives with her family in Durham, North Carolina. Connect with Frances online at

About The Illustrator

Provided by the author

Amy June Bates has illustrated books including the Sam the Man series; Sweet Dreams and That’s What I’d Do, both by singer-songwriter Jewel; and Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan. She is the author-illustrator of The Big Umbrella, about which Booklist raved, “A boundlessly inclusive spirit...This open-ended picture book creates a natural springboard for discussion.” She lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, with her husband and three children.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books (June 30, 2020)
  • Length: 192 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534412620
  • Grades: 1 - 4
  • Ages: 6 - 9
  • Lexile ® NC750L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®

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