Saturday, November 22, 2008

56. Three Bags Full

The title: Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story
The author: Leonie Swann
Publication: Random House, 2005
Got it from: The library

This review is late. I've been so busy watching the Dance Your PhD contest on YouTube that I can't do anything else. I'm still trying to think up a good dance for my husband's "the effects of Hegel on 19th century American writers" PhD. Nope. Nothing.

First, can I say: this book has a FLIP BOOK SHEEP in the bottom right hand corner! When you flip the pages the sheep hops! For that alone, the book deserves an extra letter. Maybe a letter and a half.

I was drawn to this book by the wacky premise: a flock of sheep solve their shepherd's murder. I really, really love this book. I have decided that I adore sheep now. I just wanted to squeeze every last one of those adorable sheep. I loved this book so much, I am adding a new category to my genre tags: crime-solving sheep.

George Glenn's sheep aren't ordinary sheep. George has read them detective novels, you see, and that makes them smarter than the average sheep, maybe the smartest sheep in the world. George has also given them names like Miss Maple (the smartest in the flock), Othello (the bad-boy black sheep), Mopple the Whale (he eats a lot), Cloud (very fluffy), etc. George turns up dead at the beginning of the book and the sheep, their heads full of detective novels, take it upon themselves to solve this most heinous crime.

The mystery itself isn't the least bit compelling. What makes this book so great is the sheep themselves. Everything is seen through their eyes and by their standards humans are very silly and incomprehensible. The sheep take to finding clues and spying on humans next to open windows. I find it hard to believe that everyone in the village talks next to an open window, but I suppose when one reads about sheep detectives one can't quibble with the plausible. What we see through the sheep is distorted and the mystery is as opaque as black paint. I wish things had been a little more clear at the end, but as the sheep didn't seem to mind I suppose the reader isn't supposed to either. I have to appreciate that the author didn't hit me over the head with the obvious, but let it unravel slowly like...wool. Funny, clever and adorable. Why hasn't there been a sequel? I want a sequel! A-

George Glenn's Sheep's List of Things That Make a Good Shepherd:
1. Clothes himself entirely in the products of his own flock.
2. The quantity and quality of the fodder he provides. Bread and sugar and green stuff, but also concentrated feed and mangel-wurzels.
3. Never docks his lambs' tails.
4. Doesn't keep a sheepdog.

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