There’s something inexplicably cozy and friendly about sheep — which is probably one of the reasons people choose to visualise counting them instead of, say, teddy bears, when they need to lull themselves to sleep. Hence, it’s no surprise a book starring cute anthropomorphic sheep would be equally appealing.
In Where Is the Green Sheep?, we are introduced to a number of sheep characters who are each distinguished by an apt one-word descriptor, ranging from what they look like to what they are pictured doing, i.e. “This is the [red/bed/slide/sun/thin/etc.] sheep.” In this way, different concepts such as colours and opposites are incorporated into the simple text.
Oddly, the Chinese translation of this book (see comparison above) is actually superior in terms of the vocabulary introduced, since, in place of the somewhat truncated and simplistic five-word sentences in the original English book, we get a more substantial and descriptive sentence on each sheep. Of course, the trade-off is that the Chinese text is comparatively less catchy when read out loud, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing since the it still reads very well.
However, the cleverest feature of this book, whether it’s the English or Chinese version, is the quirky way in which the author has injected some toddler-appropriate mystery to add another level of interest in the book by intermittently inserting the question that we see on the cover — “But where is the green sheep?” or “可是绿色的绵羊在哪里?” — within the body text, like the refrain of a song, which helps to hold the reader’s attention until the end of the book, when we finally learn the answer. Although, with such an intriguing title, you can’t really help but read the book with the question niggling at the back of your mind anyway, especially when the mysterious green sheep is absent from most of the pages. Little toddlers in particular would be happy to join the search, even after they’re in on the joke — by reading the book over and over again.
Watch the video reading below to get a preview of the original English book: