Have you ever been thinking about something, when someone comes up with the same idea? Like you’re at the office, thinking, “I should get pizza for lunch,” and a coworker invites you to get pizza. Or you make a movie about the zoo in Central Park, including a lion and a giraffe neither of which reside in the Central Park Zoo, incidentally and you call this movie Madagascar, and along comes a new movie featuring the non-residential lion and giraffe of the Central Park Zoo. Happens all the time.
So, I hadn’t done a picture book post in a while, but I’d had one in mind, when FuseNumber8 posted number seven in her series of hot men of children’s lit. Who is it but Rob Scotton, author of one of my favorite new books, Russell the Sheep. And I was just thinking about a post on sheep. How about that?
Russell the Sheep, besides having a hot author, also has a wonderful illustrator. Every expression on Russell’s face is just perfect, and the scenes offer much to look at (Where is the frog this time?). Russell is trying hard to get to sleep, but he just can’t do it. He tries everything, and finally gets to sleep by ready? counting sheep. No deep message, but a very cute book.
New this year is Jackie French’s Pete the Sheep Sheep, and it’s a funny one. While all of the other sheep shearers have sheep dogs, Shaun has a sheep... sheep. Pete talks very nicely to the sheep he’s herding, so all the sheep want to go to Shaun. The other sheep herders get mad and send Shaun and his sheep away. In his sadness, Shaun shears Pete his only sheep left and gives him a funky hairdo. When the other sheep see it, they want new hairdos also, and they seek out Shaun. The other shearers have no choice to to join Shaun and his sheep sheep, and they resolve all of their differences in an amusing way.
Delilah, by John Bemelmans Marciano, is one of my favorite books ever as far as planting a message to kids in a book. The farmer Red gets a lamb, Delilah, and she follows him everywhere. They become good friends working side by side on the farm. Red makes so much money from her wool that he decides to buy a bunch of sheep so Delilah will have friends. But the new sheep don’t like that Delilah associates with humans and doesn’t behave like a real sheep should. They leave her out until she agrees to take off the special bell that Red gave her and blend in with all of them. She tries this for quite a while, but is very sad, and watches Red being very sad. Then one day in the spring, as Red is shearing her, she can stand it no longer and licks him. They are overjoyed to find each other again, and Delilah doesn’t worry about what all the other sheep want. What a great message about being yourself and not following the crowd.
I bring this next book out every year at this time. Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep, by Teri Sloat, is a masterpiece of rhythm and rhyme and just plain fun. While kids are laughing at the story, they are learning about the process of turning wool into yarn. Farmer Brown shears his sheep in the spring, but they are too cold, so they follow him around as the wool is cleaned, dyed, and turned into yarn. He finally notices his shivering sheep and knits them all wool sweaters to wear after shearing each year. It’s fun to read and educational too.
Go ahead FuseNumber8, what am I thinking about... now?