…the format is perfect for Koch's wide horizontal scenes of grassy hills, European streets and, loveliest of all, beaches on the North Sea…Each long page is intensely colored, almost like an enormous paint chip, in hues a catalog copywriter might describe as oxblood, flan and caf� au lait, with a mushy-pea green added for the vitamins.
The New York Times - Sarah Harrison Smith
The trim size of Koch’s picture book makes a big statement—it’s more than 18 inches long and just seven inches high—and what’s inside does too, albeit in a quieter way. Originally published in Germany in 2007, the story introduces a “very special sheep” named Digby who is first seen sitting alone, far from the rest of his herd, at the edge of a hilly enclosure. Yes, Digby is different because his fleece is red-and-white striped, but it’s his desire for something more that really sets him apart. When a hot-air balloon passes by (it, too, is striped with red), Digby pursues it into town and beyond. “He found other things that seemed a little bit like him,” Koch writes as Digby sniffs at a discarded red-and-white paper cup. Eventually, Digby makes his way to the seashore—overseen by a red-striped lighthouse—and both the journey and lighthouse give him literal new perspective. Koch’s confident and precise draftsmanship, muted palette, and understated storytelling, along with the attention-getting format, combine to create a memorable and distinctive story about difference, belonging, and home. Ages 4�8. (Aug.)
PreS-Gr 2—"Wherever you go, go with all your heart." This quote from Confucius introduces the story of Digby, "a very special sheep." On a green hillside, all the white sheep huddle together, glancing curiously at another ovine who sports broad maroon stripes. Pretty? Yes—but different. Digby knows he doesn't fit in, and when a similarly striped hot-air balloon floats by, he chases it till it vanishes high above a crowded city. On the streets, Digby finds other kindred stripey objects: a cola cup, a candy cane, a poster of a gramophone. But none of these items is talkative, and a dejected Digby has yet to discover why he's different and where he belongs. But he doesn't give up. He hops a train, is lulled to sleep, and wakes up in a place "whose soothing sound warm[s] his heart." He's at the seaside, by a maroon-striped lighthouse, surrounded by plain white sheep who welcome him—"…here, it was okay to be different….He belonged." Digby the book is as distinctive as Digby the sheep. Its elongated shape (7 inches high by 18 inches long) feels luxurious and allows Koch a generous expanse in which to demonstrate her artistic skills. Every page is a masterpiece of perspective and detail, the subtle creams and tans of the high-quality paper elegantly inked and occasionally colored. Digby is a fine addition to, and a sterling example of, the literature of self-acceptance and finding one's true home.—Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY
An unshelvably long, skinny format (approximately 7 inches high by 18 1/2 inches wide) isn't all that makes this earnestly self-conscious odyssey dispensable. Having "sensed" that he is different—obviously so, being outfitted with bright red stripes—Digby the sheep leaves his woolly white compatriots to follow a similarly striped hot air balloon into a junky city. There, encounters with red-and-white awnings, trash, hazard signs and the like leave him still wondering: "Why am I so different? And where do I belong?" Boarding a train, he ends up at the entrance to a red-and-white–striped lighthouse and so happily joins a nearby flock of (unstriped) sheep, as "the wind had told him" that "here, it was okay to be different." Why the second flock and pasture should be preferable to the first is anybody's guess; furthermore, Koch, mystifyingly, does not offer panoramic landscapes and sea views nor otherwise give the unwieldy dimensions of her simply drawn cartoon illustrations any justifiable purpose. Both inscrutable and blaaaand. (Picture book. 4-8)