Cover image for A symphony for the sheep
A symphony for the sheep
Millen, C. M.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1996.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 21 x 27 cm
After the shearer removes the winter coat from the sheep, the spinner, weaver, and knitter, each in turn, do their part to produce the wool sweater.
Reading Level:
NP Lexile.
Program Information:
Reading Counts RC K-2 2.9 1 Quiz: 16975 Guided reading level: M.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.3.M6115 SY 1996 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



This playful read-aloud poem is a glorious celebration of the sheep of Ireland. Told in four parts -- by the shearer, the spinners, the weavers, and the knitters -- A Symphony for the Sheep captures all the beauty, humor, and music of a land known for its traditions of poetry and storytelling.

Author Notes

Caldecott Medalist Mary Azarian is a consummate gardener and a skilled and original woodblock artist. Many of her prints are heavily influenced by her love of gardening, and her turn-of-the-century farmhouse is surrounded by gardens that reveal an artist's vision. Mary Azarian received the 1999 Caldecott Medal for SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY, written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. She lives, skis, and gardens in Vermont.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-8. Hand-colored woodcuts lend the perfect Old World feel to this spirited musical rhyme set in the Irish countryside. Divided into four parts (one told by the shearer, another by the spinner, a third by the weaver, and the final one by the knitter), the poem explains the traditional process of making a wool garment. Knitting terms aren't always defined in the text or clarified in the pictures, but their use will provide teachers with great grist for the classroom. In fact, the book as a whole is best suited to group use; its rather complicated structure--each speaker's part is followed by a refrain in italics, with all the refrains gathered together at the close of the book--as well as its inherently musical rhythm are made to order for a large chorus. Millen's afterword, which explains the structure and how to use the text for singing in the round, would have been more helpful had it been made into a preface; however, with patient direction, the book offers some wonderful opportunities for fun and learning. --Stephanie Zvirin

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-3‘Set in Ireland, this poetic story follows the steps by which a sheep's woolly coat is transformed into cloth and sweaters. Similar to Tomie dePaola's Charlie Needs a Cloak (S&S, 1973), the narrative begins with a tribute to the sheep and goes on to the work of shearing, carding and spinning, weaving, and knitting. "Now the shearer comes around/to shave away their curly coats/and take the greasy wool to town/for use by nimble Ulster folk." Azarian's hand-colored woodcuts set strong figures of sheep and old-fashioned peasant folk in broad double-spread views. Periodic refrains, which reappear as an end poem, are each attractively framed in pictorial motifs. There's a rustic charm here, suggesting that the age-old process is quaint, a thing of long ago and far away. Some lines will baffle children either for pronunciation ("the hills of Derryveagh") or meaning (" rain fills the sky/Irish wit remains dry!"). The author includes suggestions for choral reading, adding a practicality to the book. This title is visually appealing, compensating somewhat for the esoteric pastiche of information.‘Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.