International Honor Medalist!


Sammy: Hero at Age Five received 2019 Reader’s Favorite Honorable Mention in the Non-Fiction – Drama! Grab your copy here and reviews are below. 

Review #1: Review by Deborah Lloyd

Reviewed By Deborah Lloyd for Readers’ Favorite

Sammy, born the day before Easter in 1985, lived with his mother and brother Gene in a small town in Kansas. He lived the normal life of a little boy – riding his big wheels, playing with trucks, and running in the backyard. He loved the homegrown vegetables from his mother’s and Slim’s gardens. Slim was the man who lived next door and was like a member of the family. Then cancer arrived, changing their lives forever. Sammy shares the ups and downs of painful, scary treatments. He and his mother spent week after week in the children’s oncology unit at the hospital, several hours from home. Sammy was observant and knew when his mother had been praying or crying. He also became aware of Jesus’ presence and His help during difficult times. In the memoir, Sammy: Hero At Age 5, written by his mother and brother, M. Schmidt and G. D. Donley, the sad journey peppered with many joyful moments is shared.

One of the most intriguing aspects of this true-life story is that it is told from Sammy’s point of view. While written in the language of a five-year-old boy, the messages within his words are truly profound. The thoughts fit a little boy’s world – excitement in eating a popsicle; hoping his mother will marry again, and he will have a new father; a wish to go to Disney World. The writing is clear and concise, and the photographs add to the realistic nature of the story. M. Schmidt and G. D. Donley shared their story to help other children and families facing these kinds of diagnoses in this memoir. This is a touching and unforgettable book!

Review #2: Review by Lucinda E Clarke 

Reviewed By Lucinda E Clarke for Readers’ Favorite

The story of Sammy: Hero at Age Five told by his mother, M Schmidt, and his brother, Gene D Donley, recounts the first years of his life from his earliest days until his sad death from cancer before he reached his sixth birthday. We learn of the early days, filled with love and happiness, his close friendship with his older brother, and the family friends who supported them. They had recently moved to a new town and his mother had met and was dating a nice man. Everyday life was normal, until Sammy began to get sick – again and again. The doctors did not diagnose his condition in the early stages and some tragic mistakes were made. Through all this, Sammy describes the toys, outings and events he enjoyed, the dressing up for Thanksgiving, his new bicycle, his favourite movies, followed by yet more visits to the hospital. Sammy shows us his world from the perspective of a small, five-year-old boy who shows so much courage through all the treatments he endured for long, painful months. There are moments of pure joy when he was released from hospital to spend a few days at home, before returning for more sessions of chemotherapy and radiation. It is no spoiler to say that sadly he passed away to go, as he tells us, to live with Jesus – the cover depicts him as an angel.

The true story of Sammy is a heart-breaking tale of courage, acceptance and an unshakable belief in a better life, free from pain, after death. While the facts of Sammy’s cruel illness are taken from journals and notes recorded during his treatments and hospital stays, what grips the reader is the roller-coaster feelings and the awe experienced by the reader of this child’s short life. There are both funny and sad moments, his understanding of how hard his mother fought to get him the best – sometimes at odds with the diagnosis and medicines prescribed by the doctors. His loveable personality shines through on every page and he has left a legacy of a life well lived that is an example to us all. The last few lines in the book are a complete shock. But I’m not giving anything away in this review. I am proud to award it 5 stars.

Review #3: Review by Deanna R Sweeney

Reviewed By Deanna R Sweeney for Readers’ Favorite

Sammy: A Hero at Age Five by M. Schmidt and G. D. Donley is a story about a little boy named Sam and his love for his family and friends. Yes, it is a story that includes Sam’s battle with cancer, but for me, that was not the main theme. This story is told from the point of view of a five-year-old boy and his main focus in telling us this story is to relay the love he has for his family and how grateful he was to spend every minute he could with them. It is also a story of Sam’s incredible bravery and faith in the face of a devastating situation.

The very first thing that struck a chord with me was the fact that if Sam had lived, he would be close to my age. He grew up in the same world that I grew up in and I instantly related to him. This story was written in such a way that it really feels like there is a five-year-old boy telling it to you, which makes it all the more heartbreaking. Once I got into the story, I couldn’t stop reading. It amazes me how this young child took all of the things he had to face in his battle with cancer in his stride. He adapted to his new situation while maintaining relatively good humor through it all. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t crying my eyes out by the end of it. Thank you for sharing this little angel’s story with us. Beautiful tribute.

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