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Farmer McFitt has lost his flock of mischievous sheep in this comical, rhymed counting book that features densely detailed illustrations that beg for repeat visits.
Ten wayward lambs hit the town to avoid a shearing. As a countdown progresses, the rambunctious crew creates a ruckus at various locales, offering readers adventures for varying interests. They visit the ballpark, museum, beach and library, where "Four hungry ewes run off looking for snacks. / They roam the library, inspecting the stacks. / Novels and poetry! All of it free! They nosh and they nibble from A down to Z." Even the cinema is overrun, as the lambkins dress up as their movie genre of choice (western, comedy and period piece). Mayer populates his spreads with playful tableaux, enticing readers to explore each escapade and find (and count!) sheep. Done in pen and watercolor with an offset pattern to layer in color and texture, his simple, cartoony drawing style—reminiscent of the Thimble Theatre–era Popeye comic strip—is organic, spontaneous and skillfully controlled. All ends well as Farmer McFitt finds his sheep, knits the fleece and gets to stop counting sheep and sleep. The countdown is entirely textual—no numerals here—so it's not a teaching text, but it's plenty fun for all that.
Beaty's amusing text teamed with Mayer's humorous artwork is one frolicking romp through numbers and naughtiness. (Picture book. 3-6)