#134 – Big Bad Sheep by Bettina Wegenast

 5 stars

“The wolf is dead!” No sooner have thr Three ittle Pigs atarted celebrating the death of the Big Bad Wolf than a sheep decides to apply to be the wolf’s replacement. He’s barely slipped on the wolf’s skin when he starts to change before his friends’ very eyesa—becoming perhaps a bit more than wolf than anyone expected.

The Three Little Pigs are rejoicing.  The Big Bad Wolf is dead and they can finally feel safe.  The sheep in the meadow, calmly eating the grass, hear the pig’s songs of glee.  Karl, a rather large sheep, who abhors bells around sheeps necks, thinks being the wolf is the job for him.  He goes to the job center where the dwarf is the manager.  Locke, Karl’s closest friend, has gone with him as he applies for the job.

After much persuasion, Karl gets a two-day probationary period to prove he can be the wolf.  Having had an earlier spat with Rene, Karl lures him into the forest and swallows him whole.  He then takes a nap.  What else can you do after eating an entire sheep, fleece, and all?

Locke is upset his friend Rene is now in Karl’s stomach and goes to the job center to find out what he can do.  The dwarf tells Locke that only The Hunter can get people out once eaten.  There is no hunter.  Locke applies for the job on the spot and gets a two-day probationary period to prove he can be The Hunter.  Locke runs back to the open field to find Karl asleep.  Can The Hunter slice open the belly of The Big Bad Wolf and sets Rene free?

Big Bad Sheep is a tale of friendship and transformation; of turning into someone else. It is filled with subtle humor, “oh-no” moments, and belly laughs.  Kids will like Karl, who is a troublemaker, and wonders what it would be like to be the wolf.  He puts on the wolves clothing and transforms himself into something he cannot control.  This sheep in wolves clothing devours a fellow sheep and then naps like it is just another day on the job.  His buddy is appalled but must transform himself into someone else to fix the mess Karl made.

Big Bad Sheep is more about the characters than the story.  We know Karl is a troublemaker, often jumping other sheep and even biting one in the leg.  Then he transforms into the wolf, despite his best buddy’s objects, and almost immediately eats a sheep.  Karl strips his alter ego only because of his friend’s actions, but does not regret his own.

Locke is a quiet sheep who is probably the only sheep who befriends Karl.  Locke transforms himself into The Hunter to save a friend.  The Hunter has a set routine for opening a wolf’s belly cavity and Locke does not skip a beat, even though it could mean his buddy Karl lives a horrid life, if he lives at all.  He is the Hunter.  Once done, he throws off the guise and returns to his own moral code.  Two sheep transform into someone else and have contradictory experiences.  There is much here to fill a week of classroom discussions.

I like the book. The cover reminds me of a Dr. Seuss book.  It is a hard cover, bound book, slim and the right size for kid’s hands.  Karl, the wolf, reminds me of the monsters in Where the Wild Things Are.
He is in the wolf’s skin yet his face, up to his ears, stick out leaving no doubt the wolf is a sheep transformed.

The chapters are short and each page has wonderful line drawings depicting the activity of the page.  On one level, there is a nice, funny story about a sheep in wolf’s clothing.  On another level,  a study of transformation.  The book itself can change depending upon the reader’s need.  Read as a bedtime story, Big Bad Sheep could cover up to 10 nights.  Read it for family night and act out the parts. Even reluctant readers would like this nice entry chapter book.

Big Bad Sheep takes  a look into what it is like to be someone other than our-self.  In someone else’s skin, or shoes, do   you adapt everything and lose yourself, or do you take what you need from one character, never losing your own  personality and moral codes.  Middle graders will have no trouble grasping the somewhat complicated subject.  The author has done a great job keeping it simple, yet complex.

Originally published for Sauerländer Verlag
Publishing House in Germay.   
This is the original cover.

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Big Bad Sheep

Author:  Bettina Wegenast   website
Illustrator: Katharina Busshoff   website
Publisher:  Eerdmans Books    website
Release Date: March 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8028-5409-4
Number of Pages:  64
Ages: 8 – 12, middle grade fiction

                                     

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5 thoughts on “#134 – Big Bad Sheep by Bettina Wegenast

    • Did I say “What?” I probably might have, but did I? No, not yet. Erik, this is a nice story about a baad sheep. Locke didn’t know about time outs, so what else could he do? Karl was baaad.

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  1. Sounds like a cute switcheroo story. Thought it was a picture book at first–surprised to see it’s longer. Will check it out. Thanks for the review.

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    • I thought it was a picture book, also. There are several pictures on most paages, it is just not a traditional picture book. It is an interesting twist of an old story. The line drawings are very good.

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