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In a sort of “queer eye for the straight sheep,” a mild-mannered shearer and his sheep-sheep show a trio of tough shearers how to get in touch with their stylish sides. Ratso, Big Bob and Bungo, and their sheepdogs Brute, Tiny and Fang, are taken aback, to say the least, when Shaun shows up with fedora-clad Pete, a sheep-herding sheep, whose polite way with his flock represents a radical and unwelcome new way of doing things. Ostracized from shearer society, Shaun practices his craft on Pete, whose new do draws all the other sheep to him, prompting him to open a salon. Soon, Brute, Tiny and Fang are sporting Shaun’s handiwork as well, and finally Ratso, Big Bob and Bungo all join in. As in the pair’s Diary of a Wombat (2003), the understated text gives the whimsical watercolor-and-pencil illustrations plenty of room to explore the inherent wackiness of the concept, as the gentle Shaun finds the right look for everyone, sheep, dog and shearer alike. It’s a sweetly fleecy tale of outsider-makes-good, the genially inevitable ending entirely satisfying. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-56862-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2005

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The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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From the Henry and Mudge series

Rylant (Henry and Mudge and the Sneaky Crackers, 1998, etc.) slips into a sentimental mode for this latest outing of the boy and his dog, as she sends Mudge and Henry and his parents off on a camping trip. Each character is attended to, each personality sketched in a few brief words: Henry's mother is the camping veteran with outdoor savvy; Henry's father doesn't know a tent stake from a marshmallow fork, but he's got a guitar for campfire entertainment; and the principals are their usual ready-for-fun selves. There are sappy moments, e.g., after an evening of star- gazing, Rylant sends the family off to bed with: ``Everyone slept safe and sound and there were no bears, no scares. Just the clean smell of trees . . . and wonderful green dreams.'' With its nice tempo, the story is as toasty as its campfire and swaddled in Stevenson's trusty artwork. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-689-81175-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1998

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