Argyle

( 1 )

Overview

Argyle enjoys being a sheep. he loves to roam the highlands and lowlands, munching on grass with the rest of the flock. One day he discovers colorful flowers growing behind some rocks. The flowers are tasty, and, day after day, Argyle returns to eat them. Those flowers are about to change Argyle's life. For soon he's growing multicolored wool. The farmer and his wife are astonished. But soon the farmer's wife is knitting socks -- argyle socks. Argyle wins fame. The farmer and his wife become rich. But when Argyle...

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Overview

Argyle enjoys being a sheep. he loves to roam the highlands and lowlands, munching on grass with the rest of the flock. One day he discovers colorful flowers growing behind some rocks. The flowers are tasty, and, day after day, Argyle returns to eat them. Those flowers are about to change Argyle's life. For soon he's growing multicolored wool. The farmer and his wife are astonished. But soon the farmer's wife is knitting socks -- argyle socks. Argyle wins fame. The farmer and his wife become rich. But when Argyle loses his colorful wool and turns white again, he loses his fame as fast as he had gained it. Now Argyle is just an ordinary sheep. And that's just how he likes it.

Barbara Wallace is the author of many books for young people, including Ghosts in the Gallery, which was nominated for the Edgar Allen Poe Award. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

John Sandford has illustrated numerous books, including Down Buttermilk Lane by Barbara Mitchell, published by Boyds Mills Press. He lives in Grand Haven, Michigan.

A Scottish sheep's unusual diet causes him to produce multicolored wool, which changes his life and the fortunes of his owners.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A sheep called Argyle roams the Scottish highlands, lowlands and midlands and discovers some tasty grass and hundreds of red, blue, white, green and purple flowers. He snacks daily at his secret place. Soon the sheepherder's wife discovers that Argyle has ``many-colored'' wool. Argyle is sheared and plaid socks are knitted from his wool. Fame and fortune follow, and the sheepherder becomes a bookkeeper of his riches; but Argyle is kept away from the common sheep and suffers the pangs of notoriety. This is a tightly woven story of a dandified sheep, but the insight that being ``special'' isn't always a blessing might persuade those readers with dreams of greatness to reconsider the notion. Sanford's art of furry-green meadows, well-cultivated hills and healthy and contented faces adds cohesion to the story's outlook. Ages 4-9. (August)
Children's Literature
Set in Scotland, this sheep tale combines the traditional cadences of a folk tale with the tongue-in-cheek assumptions of a pourquoi story (So that's how Argyle socks came to be!). Argyle, a white sheep with a black face, ears, and feet, loves the peace and quiet of the green hills and the placid security of being just like all the other sheep. When he devours some brightly-colored tulip-like flowers, all is changed. Yes, he sprouts wool colored like a rainbow and becomes a celebrity overnight, earning a medal from the mayor and making his owners rich. Alas, fame and his rainbow hues prove to be fleeting! While Mr. MacDougal tries in vain to restore his colors, Argyle is only too relieved to return to the anonymity of the flock. Mrs. MacDougal figures out how to use ordinary dyed wool to knit the plaid socks ("You may have heard of them."), named, of course, after the formerly multicolored animal. Illustrations reminiscent of small primitive paintings add to the folk art naiveté; it is amazing the variety Sandford achieves with simple shapes in green, black, and white. In contrast, the magic flowers, the socks, and the mayor's kilt add an appropriate touch of brightness. The sly humor, the engaging characters, and a lesson also learned from the golden goose will make this modern folk tale appealing to listeners and readers of many ages. 2004 (orig. 1987), Boyds Mills, Ages 4 to 8.
—Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3 A sheep named Argyle is appropriately featured in this comic-satiric fable about the blessing of anonymity and the pitfalls of fame. Argyle finds comfort in belonging but also requires time away from the flock. After devouring some delicious flowers, Argyle is magically transformed into a colorful, striped sheep. His enterprising owners use his unique fleece to not only create Scotland's first pair of plaid socks, but also to establish a prosperous business. But fame is fleeting. Deprived of the enchanted flowers, a miserable Argyle loses not only his colors, but his fickle following, too. He happily returns to the comforts of the fold. Sandford is an illustrator to watch. Bold greens and blues that reflect the Scottish countryside dominate the primitive and expressionist style chalk drawings that exhibit a skillful handling of perspective and pattern. And jokes abound for the keen-eyed. The book has the brevity, simple style, and layered meanings of the classic fables, but there's no celebration of peasant virtues here. The McDougals are rewarded financially for their exploitation of the sheep, whose suffering goes unrequited. At its most sophisticated, this is a clever and original commentary on capitalism. All told, a natural for reading aloud. Julie Corsaro, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781563970436
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara is the author of a number of books for young readers, including Peppermints in the Parlor, Ghosts in the Gallery, and Cousins in the Castle. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

has illustrated many books, including Down Buttermilk Lane by Barbara Mitchell and The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers by Caroline Arnold. He lives in Grand Haven, Michigan.

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