cover image Digby Takes Charge

Digby Takes Charge

Caroline Jayne Church, . . S&S/McElderry, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-3441-7

Brimming with cheekiness, Church (One Smart Goose ) tells the story of Digby, a new sheepdog who is definitely not being treated like top dog by his woolly charges. The six sheep on the farm “had different ideas,” Church writes. “They didn’t like being told where to go or what to do.” (The sheep are comically shown filling up a two-page spread, staring at the reader with beady eyes and furrowed brows.) Digby resorts to an escalating series of tactics, attempting to herd them with a bulldozer, tank and finally a helicopter, but “the sheep simply looked up and laughed.” There’s a wry, cinematic eye behind the bright collage and acrylic drawings, and the cartoonish characterizations make the fierce battle of wills between Digby and the sheep even funnier. Digby does finally take charge, thanks to a tactic suggested by some of the other farmyard denizens who tell him, “We have lived on this farm for a long time.... And we’ve learned there is a way to get what we want!” (More effective than heavy machinery is the use of one polite little word, Digby learns.) Never didactic or preachy, Church uses a deft sense of humor that should make this simple lesson in manners all the more palatable to her target audience. Ages 4-7. (July)