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Digby Takes Charge Hardcover – July 24, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Brimming with cheekiness, Church (One Smart Goose) tells the story of Digby, a new sheepdog who is definitely not being treated like top dog by his woolly charges. The six sheep on the farm had different ideas, Church writes. They didn't like being told where to go or what to do. (The sheep are comically shown filling up a two-page spread, staring at the reader with beady eyes and furrowed brows.) Digby resorts to an escalating series of tactics, attempting to herd them with a bulldozer, tank and finally a helicopter, but the sheep simply looked up and laughed. There's a wry, cinematic eye behind the bright collage and acrylic drawings, and the cartoonish characterizations make the fierce battle of wills between Digby and the sheep even funnier. Digby does finally take charge, thanks to a tactic suggested by some of the other farmyard denizens who tell him, We have lived on this farm for a long time.... And we've learned there is a way to get what we want! (More effective than heavy machinery is the use of one polite little word, Digby learns.) Never didactic or preachy, Church uses a deft sense of humor that should make this simple lesson in manners all the more palatable to her target audience. Ages 4-7. (July)
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As the confident new sheepdog on a small farm, Digby tries to assert his authority when it's time to move the six sheep into their pen. They don't respond to orders, growls, or ferocious looks, so Digby attempts to herd the little flock using a truck, then a tank, and finally a helicopter. The sheep won't budge. After he heeds a piece of advice from the cows and pigs, though, Digby finds that he can accomplish his goal with one word: "please." A witty turnabout on the final double-page spread keeps the ending from feeling preachy, but the lesson is one that parents and teachers like to reinforce. Digby is appealing, but children are likely to identify just as much with the sheep, who dislike "being told where to go or what to do." Using acrylic paint, textured papers, and collage, Church creates landscapes and characters with expressive lines and some unusual but effective color combinations. Simple, satisfying, and sometimes amusing as well. Phelan, Carolyn
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