Sam Who Went to Sea by Phyllis Root

Sam Who Went to Sea

Written by Phyllis Root
Illustrated by Axel Scheffler

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Written in lyrical prose by Phyllis Root and illustrated in bright bold colours by Axel Sheffler, the illustrator of The Gruffalo, this book is the story of a river rat who follows his heart and realises his dreams when he builds a boat and sets sail in her. A truly uplifting story for young adventurers.


Sam Who Went to Sea by Phyllis Root

Sam, the river rat, dreams of going to sea. Day and night, whatever he is doing, his thoughts turn seawards. His neighbours tell him to think of practical matters like fixing his fence and getting his garden in order. But Sam decides to build his own boat. His neighbours are sceptical, You'll be swallowed by a shark, they warn. By spring his boat is ready and Sam sets off on his voyage. The neighbours tell each other that that's the last of Sam. But as they return to their vegetable patches, Sam is skimming over the wild green waves, and one day a passing seagull drops a note that reads, Dear friends, please do not worry, I am happy. Love, Sam.


Sparkling pictures - The Evening Standard

About the Author

Phyllis Root

As a child
Phyllis picked up an early affinity for colloquial language whilst growing up in Indiana and southern Illinois, “where people actually say things like, ‘I got a hitch in my git-along’!” She decided to be a writer in the fifth grade, but it wasn’t until she was thirty that she took a writing course with an influential teacher who gave her “the tools” she says she needed. “That’s when I figured out that you could learn to be a writer,” she says.

As an adult
When she’s not writing, Phyllis teaches at Vermont College’s MFA in Writing for Children programme. She lives with her two daughters and two cats in a 100-year-old house in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and loves to read (mostly mysteries with female protagonists) or spend time outdoors gardening, camping, sailing or travelling. “One of the things I’ve learned about myself,” she confides, “is that when I get really stuck and can’t seem to get writing, it’s because I’ve forgotten to take time out to play.”

As an artist
“Picture books are performances,” says Phyllis, quoting some sage advice she once received. “They’re performances that involve a child – something both of you do. And once I started thinking of them that way, I started getting much looser about making up words and playing around with rhythm.” The author does “endless rewriting” before a book is finished, but often starts out by writing her stories in her head, a trick she learned as a time-pressed mother when her two daughters were very young. For example, Rattletrap Car – a joyful celebration of perseverance – began with her playing around with sounds (“clinkety clankety, bing bang pop!”) and calling up bits of old camp songs. A master of rhythmic read-alouds, Phyllis exhibits a range many writers would envy. Her counting book Ten Sleepy Sheep is as serene and lulling as One Duck Stuck is rambunctious. “Counting sheep isn’t always easy,” she notes. “Once, while we were farm-sitting, my daughter and I had to chase down two runaway lambs in the growing darkness, then count twenty-seven frisky lambs to make sure they were all safe for the night. Luckily, they were.”

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Book Info


32 pages
Interest Age: From 3


Phyllis Root
More books by Phyllis Root

Author's Website



Walker Books Ltd

Publication date

7th February 2013




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