Written by Mary Jessie Parker, Illustrated by Shannon McNeill
Dutton Children’s Books, 2005
The high, rocky hill baked under the hot sun.
The plot in a nutshell: Two very different sheep try out each other’s homes.
Wild is a bighorn sheep who lives on the hill and Woolly is a ranch sheep who lives in the field below. One very hot day, they both seek shade in the woods and end up meeting. Each is amazed that the other is a sheep, since they look very different. Woolly invites Wild to come see his wonderful field and they go there together. But Wild doesn’t like having no place to hide from wolves. As he’s saying this, he sees a shape approaching them and tells Woolly to run, but it turns out to just be the farm dog (who is very amused at being taken for a predator). Unhappy with the grassy field, Wild invites Woolly to come to the rocky hill. The climb exhausts Woolly and his fluffy coat gets caught in the bushes. They return to the woods where they met and share a laugh about how they spent their day together. Then, promising to meet the next day, they each return to their own home and fall asleep.
Author Mary Jessie Parker fills this story with humorous moments to keep this story light and funny rather than overly heavy with its message about accepting differences. I really liked the scene in which these two meet each other and are so surprised to realize that they are the same species of animal. It is easy to see a message about diversity and how someone can look so different from you but still be a person, exactly like yourself. The story goes beyond that, though, to examine the differences and why they’re important. Shannon McNeill’s watercolor artwork presents these two sheep as adorable and comic characters, with cute little faces and lots of personality. The scenes of the two sheep each trying to deal with the other’s environment is presented with a lot of humor, yet it wonderfully shows that you can’t expect everyone to enjoy all the things you enjoy. The ending is a great representation of compromise.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that what’s perfect for you is probably not going to be perfect for everyone, but there’s always a place that works for both of you.