Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book #130: Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski, Illustrated by Lee Harper

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Woolbur isn’t like the other sheep in the flock and his parents are very worried. He runs with the herding dogs instead of the sheep. He rides on the spinning wheel instead of spinning wool. He dyes himself blue, instead of the wool. Even though Grandpaa tells them not to worry, Maa and Paa pull their wool all night long. Finally, Maa and Paa take Woolbur aside and tell him that from now on he will do everything just like everyone else. Dejected and sad, Woolbur thinks all night long to come up with a plan. From then on he teaches the other sheep to run with the dogs, ride the spinning wheel, and experiment with color.

The text of this story about marching to the beat of your own drum uses an episodic pattern that helps to keep the story moving. Each time Woolbur is scolded for doing things his own way he replies, “I know. Isn’t it great?” Kids will very quickly pick up the pattern and can help with that part of the story. The painterly illustrations use a yarn and wool motif to create whimsical sheep filled scenes. Harper’s sheep are not generic; they burst with personality, especially spunky Woolbur.

This is a fun book to read before or after visiting a sheep farm because it mentions shearing, carding, spinning, and weaving wool. If you can’t get your kids to a farm, see if there’s someone in your community who knows about wool and fiber arts and is willing to visit your class or storytime.

This book just begs to be followed with some yarn crafts. If you have elementary school aged kids, this is the perfect excuse to introduce knitting, weaving, crocheting, or finger knitting. Isola Lily has some wonderful yarn craft tutorials on her blog.

If you have younger kids and don’t mind getting messy, make some yarn Easter eggs (or tree ornaments). I also love these cotton ball sheep, but get some pom-poms from a craft store in different colors so kids can make colorful Woolbur sheep. Check out the Woolbur masks on Leslie Helakoski’s website.


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