When the sheep go on strike, this French farmyard finds a national tradition has crossed species.
“Why are we always the ones who get sheared?” demands Ernest, the Trotsky of the assembled sheep. Why not cat-hair sweaters or donkey-hair britches? Well, readers will think of plenty of reasons, but that won’t stop Ernest. Who freezes come October? Who then must get shots for their colds? On strike! Shut the shearers down! Agog, Dumont’s other finely etched, autumnal-colored farmyard creatures see Ernest’s point. Ralph, the sheepdog, tries a sheepdog’s time-honored trick—he nips a sheep—but they rally and stampede him, “hollering about police brutality.” Sides are taken; the sheep decide to march for their demands. Around one corner, they meet a phalanx of dogs. The protestors engage, then retreat and rethink their tactics. The idea of sharing gets batted about—an equitable distribution of labor, if not in so many words: “We give our eggs every morning,” says one hen. “Not all of them, luckily, not all of them!” counters a fortunate chick. An idea is born: It’s never too early to introduce “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs” (as long as they are not piggy-wiggies).
Dumont’s lesson can run shallow or deep, but it is a winner either way. (Picture book. 4-8)