ShBeep the Unique Sheep
One morning, Poppy (aka Pop) is heading to the bus stop when she notices something peculiar: a sheep with a checkerboard on his lap. Not only does he not have checkers for his checkerboard, but he’s also wearing a bandana and hat. Pop chats with him, saying it’s impossible to play checkers without actually having any. The sheep disagrees and affirms anything is possible if one imagines.
Pop believes the strange creature is a sheep, although he assures her that he’s a ShBeep, making it clear there is a difference. Pop is quite unusual herself. For Hat Day, she wears an oatmeal pot on her head. On Pajama Day, she dons a fancy ballgown with a Santa hat. The kids at school make fun of her. As she gets to know ShBeep, he becomes her very best friend. He appreciates her uniqueness, how she skips, hops, and zigzags everywhere, how she’s set apart from others. With him, she doesn’t feel judged. Together, they go on all sorts of adventures, some real and some imagined.
One day, Pop can’t find ShBeep anywhere. After he’s been missing for three days, she pleads for him to show himself if he’s hiding. ShBeep slowly comes out from behind a tree. His sadness is palpable. He describes the farmer shaving his wool and confiscating his bandana and hat, taking away the things that made him unique. Pop ensures he understands that none of those things really matter. What she likes best about him is how he makes her feel; that’s what matters in the end.
This is a precious story about friendship, acceptance, and originality. It’s also about the gift of imagining and the powerful impact it can have on the lives of those who dare to dream, transporting them to another dimension where they can escape the here and now. It expands children’s minds and opens up a world of possibilities in which resources no longer matter. All that does is the willingness to engage. ShBeep teaches Pop this, and it ends up being the glue that strengthens the bond of their friendship. Their journeys help Pop flee from the worries of her everyday life. They bring meaning and novelty, while for ShBeep, they break up the monotony. They are the spark that ignites and fuels both their lives. When youngsters read this heartwarming tale, they’ll be able to travel along with Pop and ShBeep, if only in their minds.
Author T. E. Antonino is masterful in his use of figurative language in this book. He laces the chapters with similes, metaphors, personification, alliteration, and even hyperbole. They’re noteworthy elements of the text, making it an ideal resource for teaching second and third graders these fundamental components of speech. Within the narrative, they enable young readers to envision the setting, characters, and more. An additional quality of the text children will enjoy is its hilarity. They will be equally touched by the sweetness within it as they will by the laughter it provokes.
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