About The Book


“Do you ever wonder where the animals go when they leave this world?”

Hello readers—

Nearly eight years ago after a family friend’s beloved German shepherd died, we were inspired to write a picture book which could be given to anyone who was grieving for a pet who had passed away. Based on our shared experience as siblings growing up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge with the pets that we loved, our story begins with two young children standing on a hillside under a weeping cherry tree where their dog, Indiana, has just been laid to rest. Missing Indy and wondering where he might be, the children imagine a special ark that takes them to a wondrous place where the love they have for their dog “shines forever”.

The journey from idea to publication has been an incredible adventure, and we feel blessed to have found a talented and kind illustrator in Lucy Koo along the way. The dream of sharing our story with the world came true when publisher Robert Pruett decided to give us a chance and release our book through Belle Isle Books. His team in Richmond, VA at Brandylane Publishing has been indispensable in making The Great Big Ark in the Sky everything we hoped it would be.

Thank you for visiting our website, and may God bless you and your family, friends and furry pals, both here and beyond.

—Liz Ballard Hamm and Andrew Ballard, 2019


Praise for The Great Big Ark in the Sky

THE GREAT BIG ARK IN THE SKY will touch the hearts of all its readers. This beautiful story’s universal message of love, shared by two endearing children, provides comfort and peace, especially to anyone who has experienced loss. Imaginative and inspiring, THE GREAT BIG ARK IN THE SKY reminds us that those we love will always be with us, forever watching over us from their heavenly home.
— Stephanie Parwulski, Author of "Beatrice and the Sunflower Gift"
THE GREAT BIG ARK IN THE SKY is a sweet story! This book will bring comfort to anyone who has lost a furry best friend. I know that I have several friends who are waiting for me! The lost of a pet is definitely a tough topic that many families have to address with their children. This story will bring comfort to the sensitive little ones who worry about all animals and what happens when they die.
— Lisa Ann Groves, MS, MLS, School Librarian
The story is an enchanting tale of acceptance and assurance when a child faces the loss of a pet. The illustrations and placement of the words on the page provide a sense of wonder and adventure suitable for a variety of ages spanning the youngest of listeners to more advanced readers. This book provides an opportunity for families facing difficult times to imagine the possibilities and open the door for processing their loss across faiths.
— Samara Musselman, M.T., M.Ed., Early Childhood Educator
The most significant relationships of a child’s life can be those they share with their pets. This book honors these relationships while illustrating the importance of giving kids language to talk about loss and death. I’m thankful that this book continues to expand the options parents have to explore these topics with their children.
— Joy Outland-Brock, LCSW and Therapist
Reading THE GREAT BIG ARK IN THE SKY was a delight. Its tender language and gorgeous child-friendly illustrations pulled me in immediately. What a gentle and kind way to teach children that death is not an end, but a transition. The artistry of Ballard, Hamm, and Koo is on display, and their reverence for the subject of love, loss, and loving again will likely comfort many young and not-so-young alike. Kudos for such a gift.
— Cynthia R. M. Rafala, LPC, LMFT, CCMHC, Counselor and Therapist
THE GREAT BIG ARK IN THE SKY is an absolute must in your child’s library! Not only does it tackle difficult subject matter with a gentle word and a sense of wonder, but the illustrations are charming and approachable. A dream of heaven for all of God’s creatures has never been so natural or so beautiful.
— Jessica Moretti, MFA, Designer and Illustrator
People are often young when they first experience the permanence of loss and truly deep sadness that accompanies the death of a beloved animal family member. A cat, dog, guinea pig—it does not matter—the grief is real! I would like to think my Foxhound is sitting next to the helmsman, taking in the sights on THE GREAT BIG ARK IN THE SKY.
— H. E. Burchard, DVM, Owner of Amberwood Veterinary Hospital