See the Dog: Three Stories About a Cat, by David LaRochelle/Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Press), $8.99, ISBN: 9781536216295
The hilarious follow-up to last year’s Geisel Award-winning See the Cat has Cat taking center stage while Dog is out sick. Cat’s not thrilled with the bossy book, though, and the results are laugh-out-loud funny. In the first story, “See the Dog”, we get the scoop on Cat, who’s filling in for Dog, but isn’t really up for that whole “Dogs dig holes” sort of business. “See the Lake”, story number two, has the book trying to get Cat to jump in a cold lake and swim, and “See the Sheep” is all about how brave Cat will save a sheep… until Cat discovers that there’s a wolf on the way. A surprise cameo caps off this side-splitting story. Gouache artwork makes for warm, cartoony expressions and the back-and-forth dialogue between “Book” and “Cat” makes for a hilarious readaloud. Download the activity kit from Candlewick!
See the Dog has starred reviews from School Library Journal and Kirkus.
Sheepish (Wolf Under Cover), by Helen Yoon, (Jan. 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536207323
Wolf’s got plans: dress like a sheep, infiltrate the flock, eat all the sheep things. As he follows his own rules, though, he discovers something he didn’t expect – becoming a beloved part of the flock! As Wolf spends day in and day out with the sheep, alongside them, playing with them, doing aerobics with them, and reading stories to them, he realizes the sheep aren’t quite so temptingly tasty anymore. He can’t even imagine trying to make a meal out of one of his friends! Separating himself from temptation, he leaves the community only to learn that just maybe, he wasn’t as crafty as he thought he was and that good friends always show up for one another. Mixed media illustrations tell the real story, and readers will chuckle to see the wily wolf surrounded by sheep who clearly know what’s going on, and will enjoy seeing how each side develops a love for the other, as they spend time together. The lighting in these illustrations is just gorgeous; light from behind Wolf and the sheep on a line create orange-tinged shadows that telegraph Wolf’s long ears and fluffy tail; a dejected Wolf heads home as sunset and a single evening star light up the sky. The light sources are part of the story and bring a warmth to the pages that I just adored with every turn of the page. A sweetly funny, heartwarming book that kids will turn to again and again.
Sheepish has starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist.
Duck!, by Meg McKinlay/Illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom, (Aug. 2019, Candlewick), $15.99, ISBN: 9781536204223
It’s a quiet afternoon at the farm when a duck comes running, panicked, yelling, “DUCK!” The horse, cow, pig, and sheep each correct him, reminding him that he is the duck, and they have far lovelier qualities (like a fine pink snout or a fine pair of cloven hooves). The duck remains insistent, until the animals are tired of him and lecture him. At that point, Duck tells them to run… just in time for a house to come crashing down on the group. A newspaper headline strewn about the downed house notes that there are tornadoes in Kansas… and there’s a street sign in the debris that says, “Kansas”.
Duck! is a fun spin on the classic Chicken Little tale, with a cumulative spin added. Each animal that corrects Duck adds his own name and qualities onto the growing list of animals Duck is trying to warn. The artwork is wonderfully subtle here – alert readers will get the idea that something’s up when they see something in the sky, right next to a cloud… is that a house? As the spreads progress, the house gets closer, the sky gets darker, and leaves and household objects start entering the pages. The entire book is a sight gag and a play on words, and I love reading this to the kids. My son likes reading Duck’s parts, and I take the other animals.
The illustrations are done in pencil, acrylic, and digital and are colorful and are full-bleed, taking up each spread with something to see. The sky starts out as a light blue and darkens as the story moves forward; the characters’ faces are comical enough to mimic while telling the story for maximum laughs. Don’t miss this one.
William Sheepspeare (Wild Bios), by Courtney Acampora & Maggie Fischer/Illustrated by Benedetta Capriotti, (Apr. 2019, Silver Dolphin), $7.99, ISBN: 9781684126194
The latest in the Wild Bios board book series introduces readers to William Shakes- I mean, William Sheepspeare, the Baa-rd of Avon. Like Frida Catlo, the first book in the series, William Sheepspeare uses animal-related puns to tell the story of playwright William Shakespeare: “William Sheepspeare wrote over thirty plays-histories, comedies, ram-ances, even shearious tragedies”. The authors even pun the titles of several of his play, including “Hamblet” and “The Taming of the Ewe”, and notes historical details like men taking on women’s roles: “…no ewes acted. All of the roles were performed by rams. The rams would perform the parts of the ewes, dressed in fancy fleeces and wooly wigs“. Sheep-related words are highlighted and in bold yellow font to stand out, and the artwork is cartoonish and charming. Most of this is going to go over little ones’ heads, but for preschoolers and kindergarteners, it’s a cute story about a sheep who writes plays. There’s a lot of text for a board book, and I lost my little ones during a storytime; I had to pick up the pace to get them back again. If you’re reading during a toddler time, you can cut it down to a sentence or two per page, and they’ll love it. I do like the Wild Bios, and want to continue getting the set to keep for my preschoolers.
Eduardo Guadardo is a sheep in training. He’s about to graduate from the Fairy-Tale Bureau of Investigations – the FBI – and take on the status of Elite Sheep, and he’s a master agent in the making. The FBI has even given him his own case to solve: an heiress named Mary is on the bad guys’ radar, and Eduardo needs to keep her safe. Even if it means following her to school. But Eduardo doesn’t like to play by the rules; he doesn’t think he needs a partner, until he does.
Eduardo Guadardo, Elite Sheep, by Anthony Pearson/Illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris,
(Sept. 2018, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1503902909
I love a good fractured fairy tale, and Eduardo Guadardo fits the bill! Eduardo learns a valuable lesson about teamwork, and readers get a fun, new version of Mary Had a Little Lamb, with a secret agent spin. It’s a dialogue-driven book with lots of conversation, so it’s a cute readers’ theatre pick for reading buddies programs. The cartoony artwork is eye-catching and kid-friendly with something new to spot with every read. The secret agent squirrel endpapers may be one of the funniest parts of the story: have kids pick out different actions (he’s talking on a cell phone and working a listening device).
Hand out dossier files like Eduardo’s, with FBI badges, before storytime. Put some coloring sheets in them! The CIA – the real one, no joke – has a kids’ coloring book online, and you can always rely on Disney Jr’s Special Agent Oso coloring pages to show up and save the day.
Get some intel on Eduardo Guardado in his very own book trailer!
Anthony Pearson is not a spy. He’s not. We promise. He’s actually a school counselor, a child therapist, and the author of Baby Bear Eats the Night, illustrated by Bonnie Leick. But that didn’t stop him from digging for clues about “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” What he found made him imagine what could have inspired the rhyme: a sheep that is totally, absolutely, 100 percent in control of things … or maybe just 95 percent. And squirrels in sunglasses. Oh, and a witch flying a helicopter. But you didn’t hear about the Fairytale Bureau of Investigations from him. Anthony and his family live in deep cover in Georgia. Get more intel about him at www.AnthonyPearson.info.
Jennifer E. Morris has written and illustrated award-winning picture books and has also illustrated children’s magazines, greeting cards, partyware, and educational materials. She has not illustrated classified documents nor is she a super secret agent. She is, however, the creator of May I Please Have a Cookie? which has infiltrated more than a million homes. If you say “The dove flies at noon,” she may tell you what the ducks recorded on their cameras. Maybe. But most likely not. Jennifer lives with her family in Massachusetts, just a few miles from the little red schoolhouse where “Mary Had a Little Lamb” originated. Read more of her dossier (that’s DAH-see-ay) at www.jenmorris.com.
One lucky winner will receive a copy of Eduardo Guadardo, Elite Sheep, courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). Check out this Rafflecopter giveaway!
Shaun the Sheep: The Flock Factor, by Martin Howard (Nov. 2014, Candlewick Press), $4.99, ISBN: 9780763675356
Recommended for ages 4-6
There’s a talent show coming to Mossy Bottom Farm, and it’s sheep versus chickens to see who’s got the real talent!
Shaun and his friends are thrilled when they see a sign advertising a talent show – The Flock Factor! – at Mossy Bottom Farm. The only problem is, none of the sheep have much in the way of talent. Except for Shirley, who can belt out a soulful tune that would make Adele weep. The chickens, who have an enviable lineup, are the mean kids here, teasing Shirley, whose stage fright renders her unable to perform in front of anyone. Can Shaun the Sheep bolster Shirley’s confidence enough to get her on stage? Will the chickens win the talent show, or will the sheep pull it together?
Shaun the Sheep is an adorable Claymation show, spun off from the hugely successful Wallace and Gromit children’s show, coming to us from the UK. The series is getting its own, original illustrated fiction series, perfect for new readers who are ready to tackle the next level in reading. Parents who enjoy a good storytime cuddle will enjoy reading this to their preschoolers, who may have a longer attention span than their little siblings.
It’s not always easy to translate something so visual to the written word, but the illustrations help fill out the story. Familiarity with Shaun the Sheep isn’t necessary, but Shaun is likely to win some new friends and viewers if this book series takes off.
The Shaun the Sheep website offers games, videos, and a social media network that allows subscribers to post their game scores, sign up for newsletters, and enter contests.