Meg McKinlay (text), and Leila Ridge (illustrator), Let Me Sleep, Sheep!, Walker Books, March 2019, 32pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781925381887
Award winning picture book author, Meg McKinlay, and illustrator, Leila Ridge, have together again produced a beautiful picture book with an amusing and original storyline.
Let Me Sleep, Sheep! is about Amos who is visited by the sheep that he is counting to get to sleep.
Amos’s conversation with the sheep is filled with amusing, silly banter as the sheep crossly list their complaints -“Why can’t you count pigs every once in a while?” they ask at one point. They rudely insist on the construction of a fence to jump over. Amos’s attempts to construct such a fence are criticised by the sheep. When he has finally built a fence to their liking, they order him to jump over it to test it out. Finally, Amos is so worn out from jumping over the fence that he falls into a peaceful slumber, and the sheep have the run of his bedroom, playing guitar, dancing, enjoying a drink whilst sitting on his bed.
Ridge’s water coloured pencil drawings in soft hues have a gentle quality and add to the sense of absurdity with sheep in clothing, standing on two feet, lazing around the bedroom or helping themselves to Amos’s toys and paints. The illustration colours convey the tone of the story events – from dream like quiet grey and beige to more active, bright colours when the fence is being constructed. When Amos finally falls asleep, his peaceful slumber is illustrated by a background of softly coloured rounded shapes which surround him.
Children with a sense of the ridiculous will enjoy the book’s original and amusing storyline and the outrageous impudence of the sheep. The lovely illustrations with the silly looking sheep add to the pleasure of reading this book. The absurdities and subtle humour would be better appreciated by 5-7 year olds, than the preschool cohort.
Reviewed by Barbara Swartz