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Sammy in the Sky Hardcover – August 9, 2011


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Sammy in the Sky + I'll Always Love You + Dog Heaven
Price for all three: $30.13

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (August 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763649279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763649272
  • Product Dimensions: 11.5 x 10 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

This timeless story, told in straightforward prose, is brought to life in textured, soft-edged watercolor paintings in a predominant palette of blue, green, and gold. The feelings of the protagonist and the playful personality of the dog are palpably rendered in their facial expressions and body language. A generous trim size, universal subject appeal, and striking artwork.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

Warm, emotional tale, replete with comfort and acceptance, this secular selection is a strong choice for a child dealing with death for the first time.
—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Barbara Walsh is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has worked for newspapers and magazines in Florida, Massachusetts, Maine, and Ireland. Sammy in the Sky was inspired by her family's first dog, Sam, a loyal and loving hound who died in 2003. She is also the author of August Gale: A Father and Daughter's Journey into the Storm, an adult biography and memoir book. Barbara Walsh lives in Maine with her family and their coonhound, Jack, a rescue dog from Tennessee.


Jamie Wyeth is an internationally known painter, illustrator, and dog lover. When he was a boy he endlessly sketched his family dog and has continued to portray animals in his work throughout his life. He has illustrated two previous picture books, THE STRAY and CABBAGES AND KINGS. Jamie Wyeth, son of painter Andrew Wyeth and grandson of illustrator N. C. Wyeth, splits his time between Maine and Pennsylvania.

More About the Author

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Barbara Walsh Skypes into book clubs and classrooms around the world. Please contact her at bwalshauthor@gmail.com

A few words about Barbara's background:

Like many writers, I was a shy kid. My mother claims I never spoke a word until high school. I preferred writing to talking. I penned poetry and 12-page letters to my relatives (who thought I had way too much time on my hands). I wrote Stephen King-like stories about my sister's stuffed animals coming to life -- stories that made them think I was deranged.

Regardless of my sisters' opinions, my high school teachers suggested I pursue a journalism degree. Several years later on my first daily newspaper job, I was assigned a story that would change my life and career.

I was 27 and a rookie at the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune when I began investigating prison escapee Willlie Horton Jr. and Massachusetts' flawed furlough program.

Horton was a first-degree killer who escaped while out on a weekend pass from Walpole, Massachusetts' top security prison. It turned out that many killers and rapists were getting furloughed on the weekend -- unsupervised. Ultimately, the investigation into the prison program changed lives, laws, affected the 1988 presidential election and earned our newspaper a Pulitzer Prize.

The Horton story also taught me that journalists have tremendous power and responsibility to inform, to tell stories that need to be told.

Like the stories I reported during my journalism career, my two books ─ Sammy in the Sky and August Gale: A Father and Daughter's Journey into the Storm ─ are true and they are stories that I was compelled to write.

When I am not agonizing over words or deadlines, I can be found by the water, swimming, kayaking or just staring at the blue-green waves.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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The illustrations are beautiful.
J. Mattis
Whether it be a person or a pet, loss through death can bring most of us to our knees.
Janice Borghoff
She took it home, read it and cried.
Gettysburg reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Janice Borghoff on August 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As a grief counselor, I work with people of all ages who have loved and lost. Whether it be a person or a pet, loss through death can bring most of us to our knees. This book is not just for children. This book speaks to anyone who has known the feeling in the pit of their stomach when someone they love, is suddenly gone. The union of Barbara Walsh and Jamie Wyeth expressing what we will all feel at one time or another, is healing beyond words. I will use this book with young and old alike, and feel confident that it will be a companion for all who grieve for many years to come.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Surely one of the greatest joys of childhood is having a pet. And perhaps the most heartbreaking event in a youngsters life would be the loss of his "best friend," should the pet die. Such was the case with the small girl in Barbara Walsh's touching story.

The girl, who remains nameless throughout, has a hound dog named Sam, Sammy to her. Her Dad said Sammy was the best hound dog in the whole world, but as she puts it, "All I knew was that I loved Sammy and Sammy loved me." His skills didn't matter - only that he played with her, slept by her bed to keep her safe at night, and made her laugh. She believed that the two of them would be pals forever.

However, the day came when Sammy was taken ill and the veterinarian told them nothing could help. It is at this point that the author helps youngsters to understand how to cope with death. The girl's Dad said, "We've got to love Sammy as much as we can because he's not going to be with us much longer. Her mother explained that when Sammy died, "...his body would be like an empty shell but his spirit will be everywhere - in the clouds, the fields, and the woods. All the good things about Sammy will be yours to keep forever."

Through the voices of Dad and Mother the author beautifully expresses the thought that Sammy will be with all of them forever in memory, in their hearts. Jamie Wyeth's frame-worthy watercolor paintings perfectly capture the story.

Highly recommended.

- Gail Cooke
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By TallPyne on October 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a story about losing someone that you dearly love. In this case it is a dog named Sammy. He is the best friend of the unnamed little girl who is the central character in the story. And, because she is unnamed, it is easier for the reader to imagine themselves as her in the story. She is every child that has ever loved a dog.

Your are instantly captured by Sammy's eyes in the illustration on the first page as the girl tells us why Sammy is "the best hound dog in the whole world". Then, as we transition into his illness, we discover just how important Sammy is as a member of their family. Everyone is affected by his illness and his loss. But, out of the grief comes an understanding that his most important contribution was his love and the memories that they shared. Those remain forever!

Every reader will likely shed a tear for Sammy. It is a book that can both teach and sustain family stories of other beloved pets. It is a story that feels authentic and will ring true to anyone who has counted their pet as a "family member".

The illustrations by Jamie Wyeth raise the story telling in this book. These illustrations are of the level found in an "art book" but are such a great match with the story they support it rather than compete with it. Overall, just a truly wonderful story for anyone who has loved a pet at some time during their life.

This story is as important as "Bridge to Terabithia" in dealing with the subject of death but covers a much wider age range. It can be read and understood by an early reader on their own or read by an adult to help them understand (or prepare for) the loss of a beloved pet. It is a book that any parent or grandparent should have in their arsenal of great books to help in the raising of a child. I fully expect that it will be nominated for a Newbery and/or Caldecott award.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Books That Heal Kids on September 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am not a fan of books about pet death that end with the whole family replacing their beloved pet with a new one. I think it does a disservice to the grief process. I am a fan of books showing the love and memories we will always have when a pet passes. This is why I loved Sammy in the Sky so much. It doesn't take the easy way out. It helps kids to focus on all the wonderful special moments pets bring to our lives. It teaches kids to remember them in their hearts. "All I knew was that I loved Sammy and Sammy loved me." It's about love.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gettysburg reader on December 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I gave Sammy in the Sky to an adult friend who recently lost her beloved golden retriever. She took it home, read it and cried. When I saw her again she said her mother had read it and wept, and so had everyone she showed the book to. Sammy in the Sky is a cathartic and healing book and goes way beyond helping just children to cope with grief and loss. I recommend it highly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shorty on March 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Beautifully illustrated, heartfelt story of the love and loss of a pet dog. Both young children and adults can relate to it. I had a hard time reading it without tearing up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Moongirl007 on August 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Sammy in the Sky," based on the true story, is a beautiful, well-written story that allows children to explore the death of a beloved pet, often the first loss they experience. It in no way "talks down" to kids -- the writing is simple enough for them to understand but appropriate for animal lovers of all ages. Don't we all wonder where our faithful animal companions go when they pass on? And the illustrations by Maine artist Jamie Wyeth are stunning. Filled with warm memories of Sammy chasing bubbles, protecting has family... a great gift for anyone. I bought two copies; one for me and one for my Sunday school class, where we used it as the basis for a gentle discussion.

Bought this book after reading Barbara Walsh's great family memoir, "August Gale."
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