Schaap en Geit
Heated Dialogue between Sheep and Goat
No one led more a boring life than Sheep and Goat. Imagine: just the two of them in a field where nothing happens, the high point of their day being a bunch of hay or a dandelion. Who’d write a book about that? Marleen Westera, the most welcome Dutch newcomer of 2004! In her debut Schaap en Geit (Sheep and Goat) Westera gets under these farm animals’ hides and wonders whether, despite their proverbial gentleness, they wouldn’t drive each other up the wall. And they do. In the first story, they decide they can’t carry on any longer. ‘One of us has to go’, says Sheep. No more bickering about who’s going to get the best grass! ‘I’ll go’, says Goat, who thinks that the world outside must have more to offer than grumpy sheep.
Westera records these woolly quadrupeds’ heated debates in eighteen self-contained chapters, which together form an engaging story book. As animal stories should, the dialogues have a philosophical undercurrent – jealousy, desire, fear, solitude, friendship, happiness and freedom are the subjects Westera deals with in a refreshing manner.
What makes Westera unique is that she doesn’t over-egg the pudding or make big issues any bigger than they should be. She makes children think and does so in an accessible, intelligible and, most of all, engaging way.
This book shouldn’t be translated without including the pictures of one of the most talented illustrators of the moment, Sylvia van Ommen. What is so striking about the illustrations to Schaap en Geit is how well Van Ommeren can convey the story using only a few strokes of the brush. She shows with limited means that however sheepish they may seem, Sheep and Goat know what matters in life.
Pjotr van Lenteren
About Sylvia van Ommen
Sylvia van Ommen (b. 1978) made her debut with the funny, philosophical picture book Drop (Licorice). In its fantastic successor, De verrassing (The Surprise), which is also about a sheep, she had no trouble maintaining her debut’s high standard.