Diane Prather

Diane Prather

Diane Prather: Surprise ending in 'Bea Rocks the Flock'

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— This week's column features two more picture books for kids.

(Next time: "Images of America: Steamboat Springs," a new book by David H. Ellis and Catherine H. Ellis.)

What a time 4-H kids would have if even one of their sheep were like Bea, the leading character in the first book.

"Bea Rocks the Flock" was written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson.

The reader gets a hint of what's to come from the illustration on the credit page.

In a "photo" of "The Flock," 14 white sheep are lined up in three rows. The five sheep in the front row hold flowers and have exactly the same smiles. Three of the four sheep in the back row look startled.

And right there in the middle row is the reason why. Bea, in keeping with her character, wears a fake nose and pair of glasses. She's the only sheep daring to be different.

You see, Bea does not follow the Rule of Sheepdom, which states that sheep are not unique.

While the others take their naps (which is quite a sight in itself), Bea rolls around on her shoe skates while she toots a horn. When the sheep knit scarves, Bea dares to not knit a white one. She parades around in a rainbow-colored scarf, a pink hat with a pompom on top and yellow sox.

One sheep, Flossie, is especially annoyed.

Another sheep, Mossie, doesn't like the idea that Bea marches to her own drum, literally, while the others play flutes.

All of the sheep, except Bea, paint identical pictures of a pasture. Bea's artwork is unusual, indeed. Sheep Jean gets right in Bea's face about it. Jean says that Bea has a "baaaaaaaaaaaaaaad attitude." As a result, Bea decides to leave.

The reader will enjoy the illustration that shows the contents of Bea's backpack. Among other things, there are two peanut butter and daisy sandwiches, Dr. Mouton's wool dye (rainbow pack), all-purpose yarn, a comb (for bad fleece days) and lucky knitting needles.

Bea puts on her backpack and heads for the city. The other sheep don't know what to think.

But Bea's plans for her no-rules-following-free-as-can-be life don't turn out quite as planned, however. There's a surprise ending, and the book has a message about being yourself.

According to her biographical sketch, Jamieson dreamed up Bea after attending a sheep fashion parade in Sydney, Australia.

"Bea Rocks the Flock"(2009) is published by Bloomsbury Children's Books. It costs $16.99 in hardcover.

Not only sheep, but also cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, goats, cats and dogs are the subjects of the poems in "Squeal and Squawk," written by Susan Pearson and illustrated by David Slonim.

It all begins when a girl can't get to sleep and no wonder. There's way too much barnyard talking going on - like clucking, oinking, snorting and a lot more.

It's all explained in "Barnyard Talk," the book's first poem. It's the first of 18 humorous poems, most of which are done in rhyme.

Some of the intriguing titles include "Cow Daze," "Chuck's Duck" and "Stomach Math."

This book is published by Marshall Cavendish (2004) and costs $16.95 in hardcover.

Both of this week's books can be found at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries.

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