My Brother Sammy
Publishers: Bloomsbury Children’s Books First Published: 1999 ISBN: 0-7475-4654-1
Sammy is not like other brothers – he doesn’t play the same games or go to the same school – because Sammy is autistic. But Sammy does not need special love for he is just like any other brother and needs understanding, patience and acceptance.
A wonderful and heart-warming book about brotherly love, with beautiful art and lyrical text.
Written in first person (from the perspective of Sammy’s brother) I used this book with my Year 5 class as part of a PSHE unit called ‘Celebrating Differences’. It was a lesson that was undertaken shortly after the Para Olympics.
The book helped us explore what it would be like to have a family member who was ‘different’ and to consider what feelings we might experience as a result of this. It also allowed one child in my class to talk about having a sister with multiple sclerosis and another to talk about having a cousin who was profoundly deaf.
My class could easily identify with Sammy’s brother and it really helped my learners develop empathy towards him rather than Sammy (something they were not expecting at all). It also helped us promote the idea of Emotional Literacy, so important when developing the whole child.
I absolutely love this book and I am sure you will fall in love with it too.
Questions to consider:
Why do you think mum keeps repeating the phrase ‘’it’s because he’s special’?
Do you think this is a good/bad thing? Why?
Why do you think the writer has chosen to use such simple language and this simple style of writing? Do you think it added or detracted from the book’s message? How so?
Did you like the fact that it was written in first person? Did this help you understand Sammy’s brother better? How?
How do the illustrations compliment the text? Why do you think this style of painting was chosen? Do you think it was a good choice? Why?
Why do you think Sammy is on one page of the book while his brother is on the other? When does this change? Do you think this was deliberate?
Why do the illustrations on pages 13 and 14 have no colour?
On which pages is text written in capitals? What is the effect of this?
How would you have felt if Sammy had knocked down your tall tower on page 11? Be honest.
How does Sammy’s brother change through the book? What journey does he go on?
At what point in the book does he change? Why is this?
Do you think mum understands his feelings towards Sammy?
Why do you think we don’t see dad?
What do you think Sammy’s brother would like to be when he grows up? Why do you think this?
While reading the book itself, I found it extremely useful to track the feelings of Sammy’s brother and plot why he felt this way. This helps learners to pick out and focus upon the emotions the book deals with, as well as help children to sympathise with Sammy’s brother, even though his feelings are quite negative at times.