Cover image for Once a shepherd
Once a shepherd
Millard, Glenda, author, illustrator.
First U.S. edition 2014.
Publication Information:
Somerville, Massachusetts : Candlewick Press, 2014.
Physical Description:
24 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 28 cm
Reading Level:
Elementary Grade.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.1 0.5 170757.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In poignant verse, the story of one young shepherd makes the experience of soldiers in World War I accessible to children.

Once there sang a carefree shepherd
In a field of emerald green . . .
Once his world was all at peace.

Here is the tale of Tom Shepherd, tending his lambs and shearing their fleece and wooing his sweetheart, who weaves the sheep's wool to make him a coat. But then the Great War comes, and Tom must leave his beloved wife and his unborn child and go off to fight. In a moving, sobering story that resolves in a heartbreaking but beautiful ending, Once a Shepherd evokes the reality of war in a way young children can understand, while fostering a deep-felt hope for peace.

Author Notes

Glenda Millard is an Australian writer of children's literature and young-adult fiction. She was born in Victoria Australia. Her first book came out in 1999 was titled Unplugged. In 2003 she released The Naming of Tishkin Silk which was named as an honour book at the 2004 CBCA Awards and was a finalist for the 2004 New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards. In 2007 Layla, Queen of Hearts, a follow up to The Naming Of Tishkin Silk, won the 2007 Queensland Premier's Literary Award for Children's Book and was a short-list nominee for the Children's Book of the Year Award for younger readers.

In 2009 Millard released her young-adult fiction novel A Small Free Kiss in the Dark and the children's novel Perry Angel's Suitcase. A Small Free Kiss in the Dark was a short-list nominee for the 2009 Aurealis Award for best young-adult novel but lost to Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan and Perry Angel's Suitcase won the 2009 Children's Book of the Year Award for younger readers. Millard was also named an ambassador for the Victorian Premier's Reading Challenge

In 2015 her title Once A Shepherd was chosen as one of four titles for the United States Board of Books for Young People. Her title The Duck and Darklings made the Wilderness Society 2015 children's book award shortlist in the Picture Fiction category. In 2016, it won the WA Premier's Book Awards in the Children's category.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3 Up-"Once there was a carefree shepherd in a field of emerald green. He lullabied his cloud white lambs and gentlied off their fleece. Once Tom's world was all at peace." So begins this lyrical tale of young Tom Shepherd and his bride. From the start, Millard conveys a sense of foreboding that their idyllic world will not last. Tom must leave his pregnant wife and head off to fight in what appears (from the uniforms) to be World War I. "He wept ten thousand footsteps while a million raindrops fell. Once he marched right into hell." Tom dies when he kneels to help an enemy, and that man later seeks out Tom's wife to tell her of his heroism. The book ends with Tom's wife having fashioned a toy for her son from his father's greatcoat-and again the world is at peace. This story has the potential to be maudlin, but the skillfull writing and carefully constructed watercolors richly transform it. Even the scenes of war have a gentleness about them, as one wounded soldier assists another. Perhaps not a book to be placed in the general picture book collection, any more than Patricia Polacco's Pink and Say (Philomel, 1994) is kindergarten fodder, it is one worthy of purchase where stories of war and moving on are needed. Best used in situations where follow-up discussion is a possibility.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.