Today’s book review is for Mary Had a Sleepy Sheep, written by Julia Dweck, illustrated by Wilson Williams Jr, published by Xist Publishing. I downloaded the ebook for free on Amazon after the author asked if I might review her work.
Mary Had a Sleepy Sheep is a wonderful parody of a classic nursery rhyme. In this version, young Mary struggles to keep her narcoleptic pet, Sheppard Sheep, from passing out all the time. She tries spicy food, fancy footwork, and changes of temperature–but nothing seems to work. Fast-paced and humorous, this tale is sure to keep readers giggling.
The very first thing that I noticed about this book was that it had excellent design. I think the reason that I noticed is because a lot of the ebooks I’ve seen for children have been aesthetically disappointing. Not so with this one. It was obvious from the beginning that a great deal of thought was put into formatting, layout, text placement and font selection. It had all of the visual appeal that you expect from a high quality picture book, translated to the digital medium.
Next I was drawn in by Dweck’s clever rhymes. I found myself smiling and chuckling at the story of Mary and Sheppard. More than that, I was impressed by the sophisticated vocabulary that was used. Dweck manages to introduce interesting words to young readers, without rendering the poem inaccessible to younger audiences. I’m always on the lookout for books that expose children to new and unlikely words.
Williams’s illustrations complement the text perfectly. He has a clear artistic style that marks his work as special and unique. The digitally rendered illustrations display a mastery of technique. More importantly, they display a great sense of humor. Mary and Sheppard come to life on every page.
Finally, the book includes extension and enrichment activities at the end. The original “Mary Had a Little Lamb” poem is reprinted, with accompanying historical notes to explain its origin. There’s a game to search the illustrations for a mouse, and a compare the two pictures activity. It’s nice when books include these extras, because it helps busy parents find new ways to engage children with the material.
If you’re looking for a high quality ebook for your kid, this is an excellent choice. It’s one of the best books designed specifically for digital format that I’ve come across. I’m giving it 4 stars for quality design, sense of humor, and vocabulary building. Also a plus, it’s not one of these new “interactive” books for kids–meaning that there is nothing to pull kids out of the story. It’s just a great story presented in digital format.
You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.