Book Review: Little Bo Peep and More…, by Donovan Bixley

Available in bookstores nationwide.

Donovan Bixley is an incredible illustrator, in terms of cv_little_bo_peepboth output and talent. He releases around four titles a year at the moment – knowing the time it takes to illustrate a book, this is seriously amazing. At the moment on the Nielsen Bestsellers charts, his take on Old MacDonald’s Farm and The Wheels on the Bus endure, and indeed they were numbers 3 and 4 respectively on the 2014 Overall Nielsen Bestsellers’ chart.

Little Bo Peep and More deserves to hang out with the others in these charts, as this is the freshest take I have seen in illustrating children’s nursery rhymes in a long time.

I dare anybody to say that these are not the most expressive and diverse sheep around. There are so many unimaginative, bland takes on how to illustrate sheep out in the world, so to see some sheep with character is pretty neat.  Donovan’s sheep are playing cricket, making an acrobatic pyramid, dancing ballet (in the case of Mary’s lamb), playing piano (in the case of the back and front covers), and bungy-jumping off bridges. These are action-men, no.8 wire, James Bond sheep (particularly when approaching Little Boy Blue), and I can see the book selling by the thousand into the international market.

It can be difficult to raise the bar to appeal to older readers in the basic nursery rhyme format, but this has also been addressed. My son Dan, who is 4, loved finding the pukeko and mouse hidden on each page. This extended a reasonably simple book into an activity-length project. My only complaint would be that in the front spread, Donovan asks us to count the sheep – Dan and I couldn’t agree on a correct number, and there was nothing to refer to!

I highly recommend this take on Little Bo Peep and her friends who love sheep to anybody at all who enjoys a well-illustrated set of nursery rhymes. Familiar and unique at once, this book is a hit.

By Sarah Forster

Little Bo Peep and More…
by Donovan Bixley
Published by Upstart Press Ltd
ISBN 9781927262085