Little Bo Peep can’t find her sheep (a common complaint), and sets off to find them. Little Boy Blue suggests there might be a book in the library that could help her strategise a means of locating her lost flock, so Little Bo Peep heads straight for her local library. A local library which boasts Mother Goose as the head librarian. A local library where books are browsed (and one would presume borrowed) by the Big Bad Wolf, the Queen of Hearts, the Three Bears (of Goldilocks fame), and Little Red Riding Hood.
So, the perfect local library for the likes of Little Bo Peep.
She’s unsure of where to look for the kind of book that might offer some guidance to finding sheep, and her hunt for exactly the right kind of book about sheep is where the real delight of this children’s book lies; for as Little Bo Peep wanders from section to section of the library, we get to read the books on the shelves that she is passing by.
Yes, that’s right. We get to pull miniature books out of pockets in the illustration and do some browsing of our own, flicking through the eight-page cookery book that the Big Bad Wolf is perusing, and the similarly-sized crime novel “Who Stole the Tarts?” being read through by the Queen of Hearts.
These are real little paperbacks, with text, illustrations, IBN bar codes and copyright declarations. And they sit between other equally fascinating titles in their respective sections of the library. The crime section, for instance, also features the detective mystery “Who Killed Cock Robin?” while the cookery section features “Cooking with Fat” by Mrs. A. Sprat.
Little Bo Peep finds the volume she is looking for in the natural history section, takes it to be stamped by the librarian and returns home to read exactly how she might find her sheep.
And it works.
This book is so filled with attention to detail that you will read it through with your toddler many, many times before you have absorbed all the thought that has been put into each illustration, and each word play that features in the library’s book titles!
My son was completely disinterested in this book when he was 28 months old, but four months later this is certainly his favourite book (this week, anyway), and the pull-out books are a big reason why.
This book, by Cressida Cowell, was first published in 1999, but has only just been released in a paperback version this year, 2009. I have the paperback, and it is very sturdy, even with the little pull-out books going in and out several times a day.
With so much humour in the story and so much energy and wit in the illustrations, this is a book you will be very glad to have sitting on your own book shelf at home.