In 2004, Australian National Treasure Mem Fox teamed up with Nemosyn's Favourite Artist Judy Horacek and published the best children's book in the whole world, ever. The premise is simple. There are many sheep: there are wind sheep and wave sheep, scared sheep and brave sheep, car sheep and train sheep. But where is the green sheep?
Here is the red sheep,
If you didn't know what to look for, you might think that Mem Fox writes really simple books, and throws them together in half an hour. They are just... so very simple! The words are just right, and just where they ought to be, and so easy to read. Of course, if you have any idea how children's books are written - or if you have ever had to spend five years of your life reading them on a daily basis - you will have realised that putting just the right word in just the right place is more difficult than playing Rachmaninov, riding a bicycle and reciting your thirteen times tables backwards all at the same time.
It takes a very special author indeed to write a book that is not only your toddler's favourite, but after five years, is still your favourite too.
and here is the blue sheep.
Judy Horacek is an artist who draws really simple pictures. Again, you might think her job is easy. How hard can it be too draw a NEAR SHEEP and a far sheep? Just like with the words, though, you soon realise that it takes real talent to make a whole book of cheerful little sheep that kids love. Judy's art style is cartoon-esque, with strong lines and bright colours - and heaps of personality. Look, I'm really biassed: she really is my favourite artist and she always makes me happy.
Here is the bath sheep,
For parents who have been reading the same book every single night for months, life gets dull. So there are two great bonuses in Where is the Green Sheep? The first is that Mem Fox has recorded herself reading almost all of her books, and put the files on her website. If your voice is cracked, and you need to wash up, and your darling is asking you to read The Sheep-Sheep Book for the fifth time today, just click here and turn up the volume. You're welcome.
and here is the bed sheep.
The second bonus is that this is a book that lends itself to quirky variations. My husband likes to read 'in the style of'. He reads in the style of David Attenborough. He reads in the style of a cricket commentator. He reads in the style of a newsreader. He reads in funny accents. I, on the other hand, have silly nicknames for all the sheep. "Here is the Baaaaaaaaa-zz Aldrin sheep and here is the Jefferson Star Sheep. WE BUILT THIS CITY ON ROCK AND ROOOO-OOOOOLLL!" Go on, try it. You can thank me later, after you've made your kids giggle themselves to sleep.
But where is the green sheep?
You'll have to find the book, and take a peep.
This writeup is dedicated to the faery sheep