Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bea Rocks the Flock

The Golden Rule of Sheepdom: Sheep Are Not Unique. Their homogeneity is pretty much what makes them sheep. The point of sheep is to be white and fluffy and nearly indistinguishable from one to the next. When Flossie knits a white scarf, they all knit white scarves. They all play flutophones and paint the same meadow scene. Not Bea. She marches to the beat of her own drum. Fed up with flock-induced conformity, Bea gathers up her belongings, straps on her baaakpak and hoofs it to the big city.

Just as Bea had imagined, there are no two sheep, er, people alike in the big city. She feels invigorated, energized and just plain un-sheeplike! After some sightseeing, Bea settles down to think. Done being a sheep, she needs to find a new profession. This is where Jamison's creativity really shines through. Bea turns up in some unlikely places, appropriately groomed to fit in. After a few mishaps, it dawns on Bea that she can be a sheep and be unique at the same time.

Back at the farm, Bea inspires the other sheep to find their true calling. Flossie starts an organic flower farm, Mossie opens a painting school and Jean reveals her desire to become a country western singer. These sheep are unique! They vote to change their golden rule and pursue their individual dreams instead of being a mindless flock of fluff.

What a great book to encourage children to choose their own path in life! Good story, bright and busy illustrations and plenty of clever details tucked about. One of my favorite pages is one that shows the interior of Bea's backpack - each item is buckled in separately and clearly labeled for the readers. Our kids were particularly drawn to the very last page, where the sheep are sheared in different styles, dyed brilliant colors and wearing funky clothing. We spent a looong time poring over the pages, analyzing how each sheep was different from the others.

Visit Victoria's blog to see the Bea illustrations and jacket sketches that didn't make the cut. I think it's fascinating to see part of that process. Plus she's funny.

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