Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Book Review: One More Sheep by Mij Kelly and Russell Ayto

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun story that teaches counting
Cons: Rhymes don't always work
The Bottom Line
Counting, sheep, and sleep
Has a few awkward verses
But kids will still like

Almost a Ten

I first heard about One More Sheep a couple years back, and I immediately filed it away as a potential gift for my then new born niece.  I finally got around to checking it out from the library, and it is certainly a fun story.  However, I don't quit see it as a classic because of one fateful flaw.

Sam has ten sheep, and every night he tries to count them before he goes to bed to make sure he has them all.  The problem is that counting them immediately puts him to sleep.  One night there is a knock at the door, and it's a sheep he accidentally left outside.  Or is it?  How can the sheep make sure Sam counts them all to make sure?

This isn't a realistic story since not only do Sam and his sheep sleep in one giant bed, but they also talk to each other.  But those elements just add to the fun of the story.  I love the premise since it takes a familiar idea and builds a story around it.  No, most kids wouldn't know about counting sheep to fall asleep, but adults will get it and can explain it to their kids.

The story is fairly straightforward, but then again this is a picture book.  Just how complicated can things get in roughly 30 pages?

The illustrations by Russell Ayto are stylized but add to the fun.  If you pay attention to the pictures, you can figure out what is at the door early on, so there's no real mystery to it.  But you'll want to keep reading to see if the sheep come up with a plan to get counted.

This is a book to be read aloud and shared.  There are one or two words that kids may not understand, but most of what is here they will get.  It's just that the vocabulary is too difficult for them to read on their own.

On the other hand, there is a page where all ten sheep are counted, so it's a fun way to introduce counting to young kids.

So, what' the problem?  The book is told in verse.  Now, I'm not a poet at all, but even I can tell the a few of the rhymes in the book don't quite work.  Reading it aloud, I also discovered that the meter is off a couple of times.  I know writing a book in verse is hard, but these problems were enough to throw you out of the book.

Yes, I do recommend One More Sheep.  It's fun, but it's flawed poetry keep it from being perfect.

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