Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Picture Book: Sneaky Sheep by Chris Monroe

Summary of Sneaky Sheep
Rocky and Blossom live in a picturesque meadow on a mountain with 147 other sheep and Murphy, the sheep dog. High above them, there is another meadow that looks plush and green.  Rocky and Blossom incessantly ask Murphy if they can go there. The wise sheep dog is well aware of the twosome’s past poor choices (illustrated in the book).  He also knows about the dangers on the mountain.  As a result, they are prohibited from going to the other meadow.   Unfortunately, Rocky and Blossom cannot stop thinking about that meadow!  Each time they attempt to sneak off, watchful Murphy catches them and brings them back to the fold.  One day while Murphy is busy assisting an injured sheep, the determined duo escapes into the forest.  Much pleased with themselves for their independence and stealth, they rest a while.  They are startled when a wolf appears. The situation looks bleak, but Murphy tracks them down before any real harm is done.  Blossom and Rocky are relieved and thankful.  They obediently stay with the other sheep…at least for a while.

My ten year old picked out another good one!  Sneaky Sheep illustrates some core human conflicts and struggles in a natural and entertaining manner.  Blossom and Rocky represent children (and adults) who think the grass is greener on the other side.  They allow temptation to lure them away from safety and sense.  I love how wise and protective the sheep dog is, much like parents and teachers.  He tries to keep them on the path and away from hazards, but they are determined to do things their own way, resulting in a brush with serious danger.  It is much like children who ignore caution and instruction. The story is a great object lesson in the importance of obedience.  On a higher level, the sheep dog parallels how God tries to keep his people out of harm’s way.  In the Bible, the Lord is often depicted as a shepherd.  Unfortunately, after a while the sheep forget about their near death experience.  They begin to long for the meadow again.  Similarly, some people keep repeating their mistakes.   I love when a picture book speaks on many levels.  People of all ages can learn from some of the best of them.   Sneaky Sheep has a fantastic story, entertaining pictures, and a meaningful theme. 

Teaching Opportunities:

  • Journaling/Writing—If I were Murphy, I would…
  • Social Studies—Learn about sheep, shepherding, and sheep dogs as well as cultures that this profession is still pivotal
  • Bible—Read Psalm 23 and other passages that depict the Lord as a shepherd; connect it to Murphy as a shepherd
  • Math—Brainstorm all the way you can group items to make 147 or the number of ways to make $1.47 with coins
  • Art—Create sheep using pillow stuffing, tissue paper, or other supplies
  • Pretend Play---Using costumes, puppets, or action figures, students can act out the adventures of Blossom and Rocky or create new ones
  • Character Education—Discuss good choices vs. poor choices; give age appropriate scenarios and devise way to deal with them wisely

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