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Sammy the Seal

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  5,283 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
A seal at school!

What happens when Sammy, the adventurous seal, leaves the zoo for the day? He goes to the city, finds a school full of kids and new things to do -- and he even learns to read!
Paperback, 64 pages
Published January 5th 2000 by HarperCollins (first published 1959)
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Sammy the Seal by Syd HoffBig Red Apple (level 1) by Tony JohnstonPut Me in the Zoo by Robert LopshireMay I Please Have a Cookie? by Jennifer E. MorrisSuper Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold
Guided Reading Level H
1st out of 33 books — 2 voters
When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi MooreWhere the Wild Things Are by Maurice SendakAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith ViorstCloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi BarrettNot a Box by Antoinette Portis
Great Books For Little Boys
87th out of 127 books — 18 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Feb 11, 2009 Lisa rated it it was amazing
This is probably truly the first favorite book I ever had. I like this book so much that I read it to my daughter's Kindergarten class when I was a Mom Reader...

I remember reading it as a kid and laughing everytime...moral of the story, there's no place like home.

Now I collect Syd Hoff books. Strangely enough, I named my daughter Sydney...not after the author, though :)
Apr 20, 2009 Kat rated it it was amazing
I actually never read any of Syd Hoff's books until I picked this up at Barnes & Noble to read it to my niece at the store.

Sammy the Seal is a fun book about a seal who lives in a zoo, and he wants to see what's outside the zoo. Mr. Johnson, the zookeeper, lets Sammy the seal out of his cage (what?!) so he can explore the city. He wanders the streets and observes people, jumps into a man's bathtub, and eventually ends up in an elementary school classroom. Although he enjoys his adventures, h
Dec 21, 2009 Uriah rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids, favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emerson and Theodore
Nov 08, 2012 Emerson and Theodore rated it it was amazing
Update: 2 days later. Emerson loves Sammy.
A seal at school. Sammy learns to spell and write in cursive. A seal in the bathtub. Volleyball. Vintage 1959 style drawings.

From the back seat of the Prius, Emerson listens to this book on CD. He usually says, "No this book. Dor-doy". Translation: not this book, I want to listen to Corduroy. So I suppose you could say Emerson would give this book a low rating. Or is it just that he REALLY LOVES Corduroy.
Either way, Sammy the Seal is a very good book.
Dec 08, 2010 Luann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-book, 2010
Maybe I would have loved this if I'd read it first when I was little. Reading it as an adult, it just seemed silly - and not in a good way. Why would the zookeeper let Sammy leave the zoo and go exploring around town? Why would the teacher let Sammy stay in school? How can Sammy learn to read and write in the space of two sentences? ("Sammy learns to read. Sammy learns to write.") I usually don't mind some silliness and a bit of fantasy in stories, but this one wasn't a favorite. I did enjoy Syd ...more
Gail Barge
Jan 19, 2011 Gail Barge rated it liked it
This book is a classic that I used to read with my Mother when I was a little girl. This book emphasizes the importance of learning about new places and meeting people who are different, all while upholding the importance of the love of home. Students could use this book to learn about different types of homes (single parent, divorced, different houses, different towns, etc.). Young students will enjoy the likable title character and his zoo friends.
Jun 25, 2011 Dolly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a fun story - it's designed for beginning readers and has a simple narrative, but it is a bit long. Young readers might need to read it in parts. The idea of a seal going to school and playing sports is funny and quite fantastic. We enjoyed listening to this book narrated on audio CD by Charles Mintz while we followed along with the story.
Sammy Long
Aug 19, 2011 Sammy Long rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picturebook
this was one of my most favorite books as a kid. I really enjoy this illustrations the author uses. He is also one of my favorite authors for children's books.
Michael D.
Aug 22, 2011 Michael D. rated it really liked it
This is a great read for teaching students science as it pertains to animals,natural habitat, diet, etc. An educator can also use the book to teach a little Geography. Sammy is a wonderful character for teaching students how to find one's place in the world.Also, it is a wonderful read for addressing the school culture and the purpose for attending school.
Dec 19, 2011 Patty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-picture
A sweet story about Sammy, a seal, who is allowed to venture out of the zoo to see what the world is like, because he is very well behaved. I remember reading this book as a small child countless times and really enjoying both the story and the pictures. As an adult, I still find this book to be adorable and enjoyable. The illustrations are very crisp and clean and look like something a very talented child artist would create. SAMMY THE SEAL is a wonderful little book.

For those familiar with th
Jubilation Lee
Okay, so there’s a zoo full of happy, well-fed animals. They’re all just pumped to be behind bars. Everyone... except for Sammy. Sammy the Seal wants to go out and see the world. But Mr. Johnson the zookeeper isn’t worried. He knows that Sammy’ll be back.

As expected, Sammy doesn’t adjust well to the outside world. The cars move too fast, there’s no scheduled feeding time, nothing seems familiar, and he has difficulty fending for himself. Eventually, despite making friends with a group of school
Dec 17, 2011 Samantha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Samantha by: Alexandria King
I love Sammy! Such a great story...a total classic, must-read for every reader =)

Anxious to see what life is like outside the zoo, Sammy the seal explores the city, goes to school, and plays with the children but decides that there really is no place like home.
Cute story for early readers. A seal tired of the zoo, tries to find his place, he is curious about everything. He loves school but is happy to go home, back to the zoo.
Feb 09, 2013 Lisa rated it it was amazing
This was one of my favorites as a child. I share this story every year in my classroom. Sammy is a seal who isn't satisfyed with living in the zoo and escapes to explore the city around him. While the grass isn't always greener, Sammy has some fun and returns to the zoo, where it is a 'just right fit' for him. This book always took me to a place where I thought it would be great to have a pet seal or some other exotic animal from the zoo. I think my parents bought it for me to remind me the city ...more
May 07, 2013 Angela rated it it was amazing
This book a classic read that I remember reading over and over again as a child with my Mom and my Grandmother. Sammy the seal doesn't want to leave the zoo for good, but he does want to see the outside world, even if it is just for a day or afternoon. The zoo keeper tells Sammy that he will allow him to go outside the zoo to explore for one day. Sammy uses this to his full advantage and sees the city. He learns that water to sit in when you are a seal can be hard to find, that school is fun, an ...more
Oct 24, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it
My almost-five-year-old son picked this book out from our local library last week. He thought that Sammy the Seal was an otter.

After his initial disappointment -- seals just can't compare to otters -- he did like this book. Sammy the Seal is a silly book, which is fine, because it is supposed to be. Kids are supposed to laugh at a seal wandering out of the zoo, and walking down the street, and attending school, and riding in a taxi cab. The absolutely delightful illustrations further the merrime
Jamie Tedesco
Mar 02, 2014 Jamie Tedesco rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-book, journey
Reading this book as an adult is different than as a kid (of course). I'm pretty sure I only really liked it because it was about a seal. It's a cute story but not supper interesting and I have what looks like the original 1959 version, although the story itself can fit for the current decade, the pictures don't really represent today due to the lack of ethnicity and the choices of clothing, but it's not a bad story and holds a special place in my heart.
Camille Ryckman
May 27, 2014 Camille Ryckman rated it really liked it
Sammy the Seal
Brief summary A seal in the zoo asks his zoo keeper if he can explore the world outside the zoo gates. Sammy explores the city, goes to school and runs into some adventures but ends up back at the zoo.
Annotation - This is a classic Syd Hoff book and the illustrations help tell the story. This is great for a first reader.
Age appropriateness This can be read to a younger child and read by children, they would most enjoy it if they are 4-7years old
Connection to six early literacy ski
Emily Togstad
Jan 16, 2015 Emily Togstad rated it really liked it
Emily Togstad
English 12
Sammy The Seal
I read a children’s book to Austin’s niece Skye. The book was called “Sammy the Seal” written by Syd Hoff. Skye enjoyed the seal. She thought he was really funny. She laughed a lot. I laughed a few times to. The book was really silly. I really liked the book.

The main character was a seal named Sammy. He liked exploring and he really loved eating fish. The zookeeper's name was Mr. Johnson. The zookeeper was really nice. He was Sammy’s friend. Sammy also
Jul 15, 2015 Stacy rated it liked it
Shelves: children
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 21, 2015 Sarah rated it it was ok
I just can't get past the fact that there's a SEA LION pictured throughout the book.
Nov 04, 2015 Rebecca rated it did not like it
I'm totally cool with outrageous plot points. Sammy could have wandered into a NASA base and gone to the moon and I could have liked it. (Seriously, Curious George does that all the time and I love it!) But it's so painfully written. Single sentences take the place of several pages. He does far more than he should be doing in a single book (which kind of necessitates the single sentence jumps) but it's simply not fun to read.

Even still I might have given it a second star for any sort of value t
Katie McCulloch
Feb 01, 2016 Katie McCulloch rated it it was amazing
The story Sammy the Seal by Syd Hoff is about a seal named Sammy who lives in a zoo. One day after being fed by a worker, Sammy told the worker that he wanted to know what it was like outside of the zoo. The worker agreed and let Sammy out of his caged area. Sammy then went around to other areas of the zoo, he went around the city, and he even went to a school. At school he learned to read and write, and met many other people. But after the school day ended he realized the place he really belong ...more
Julia Brumfield
Jun 30, 2016 Julia Brumfield rated it liked it
A childrens' favorite that is sure to delight and stick with children for much years to come. The simple formatting of the writing is the doorway to beginning readers as they follow Sammy who isn't a seal but an actual sea lion.

The concept is cute and sweetly when you think the fact that a zookeeper would just allow one of his charges out to see the world to fit him. Then again looking at the confining spaces of this particular zoo it does make sense.

The pictures follow along sweet and simple
Katelyn Bognatz
Title: Sammy the Seal

Author: Syd Hoff

Illustrator: n/a

Genre: early reader

Theme(s): animals, zoos, children’s stories

Opening line/sentence: “It was feeding time at the zoo. All the animals were getting their food.”

Brief book summary: The book is about the animals in the zoo and what they are eating. Sammy the seal breaks out of his cage and starts living life as though he’s a human.

Professional Recommendation/Review #1: Hazel Rochman (Booklist, December 1, 1999 (Vol. 96, No. 7))
Newly illustrate
Brian Gramman
Aug 14, 2016 Brian Gramman rated it really liked it
Sammy the Seal is the dystopian novel that 1984 was meant to be. What is Big Brother if not a semiaquatic anglophone determined to force himself into the lives of unsuspecting humans? Orwell envisioned a world where you were always being watched, whether you liked it or not. This, of course, pales in comparison to Syd Hoff's nightmarish conception of a totalitarian regime that grants a goddamn seal the right to take a bath IN YOUR TUB whenever it pleases, whether you like it or not.

Sammy is a d
Heather Armbruster
Sep 18, 2016 Heather Armbruster rated it it was amazing
Sammy the Seal by Syd Hoff is the perfect fantasy book for a first or second grade level reader! It has cute illustrations and a fun and simple story for young readers. This book is about an adventurous seal that decides to see what life outside of the zoo is like. Sammy travels around the city and ends up in school with children and learns to read. This book does not contain inappropriate or concerning content. This could be used in an animal science lesson, as the book shows seals and other zo ...more
Sep 29, 2016 Emma rated it it was ok
This book started out good, but I was not satisfied when I was done reading it. I believe that the story could have been done better. The writing was well done, but I wish that the illustrations had more color to them. They lacked color so much that at times it seemed as if it was black and white. I also saw the ending as too good to be true. Personally, I do not believe the completion to the story was incomplete and unsatisfying. I believe that the ending that was chosen conveys the wrong messa ...more
Sujatha Sankaran
Oct 23, 2016 Sujatha Sankaran rated it really liked it
This was one of the first books my five year old daughter read entirely on her own. It definitely made me feel nostalgic since I read it many times in my "I can read" phase as a child, and she thought it was hilarious. It does have a dated feel, but was still a great book for an early reader!
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Whether you’re seven or seventy, the chances are you’ve probably come in contact with one of his many books (150 plus), or cartoons that have appeared in over 200 magazines in the course of his lifetime, including Laugh it Off which was syndicated for 20 years. His comic strip Tuffy, about a little girl who did funny things, was declared essential for national morale during WWII by William Randolp ...more
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