Hide and Sheep

Andrea Beaty, illus. by Bill Mayer, S&S/McElderry, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4169-2544-6
This amusing counting book features Farmer McFitt's sheep, who pole vault the gate and have a busy day in the city. While the format is familiar—one sheep stays behind at each location they visit—Beaty's (Firefighter Ted) smart couplets and Mayer's (All Aboard! A Traveling Alphabet) retro-inflected pen-and-ink artwork give the story its freshness. The illustrations are filled with enough humor to prompt requests for rereading and include plenty of jokes for adults as well. At the art museum, Dalí's wilted clocks are rendered as sheepskins while van Gogh's self-portrait is transformed into a sheep. Using a muted palette with pixilated cartoon textures, Mayer's illustrations are chockfull of action, adventure, and droll, rambunctious sheep who find their way to a baseball game, a movie theater, and the library ("Novels and poetry! All of it free!/ They nosh and they nibble from A down to Z"). The abrupt ending—it's unclear how or when Farmer McFitt found the sheep and accomplished his intended shearing, much less knit them new outerwear—is the only weak point in an otherwise comedic lark. Ages 4–8. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/07/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
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