The SheepOver: Sweet Pea & Friends, Book 1

Book review by
Bess Maher, Common Sense Media
The SheepOver: Sweet Pea & Friends, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Sweet story about sick lamb is confusing in parts.

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Kids say

age 2+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids will learn a little about farm life and taking care of animals.

Positive Messages

When a friend is sick, friends gather around to help her feel better. Animals need care and sometimes have to see a veterinarian, like humans see a doctor.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The animals look out for one another, and the humans take good care of the animals.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The SheepOver: Sweet Pea & Friends is the debut children's book by the author-illustrator team of John and Jennifer Churchman, who live on a farm with the real-life sheep Sweet Pea and other farm animals portrayed in the book. Based on actual events and born out of the authors' popular Facebook page, The SheepOver will appeal to farm-animal-loving kids and their parents. However, the cute-but-meandering story line and collage-style photo illustrations can be confusing and may be better for older kids than little ones.

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What's the story?

In THE SHEEPOVER: SWEET PEA & FRIENDS, farm dog Laddie wakes up Farmer John to let him know that orphan lamb Sweet Pea has fallen sick, just as the rest of the farm animals rally around her. Alison, a veterinarian, promises that as soon as Sweet Pea recovers, she'll get to have a "sheep-over" party with her friends. The story is based on real-life events and animals on the Churchmans' farm in Vermont, which the authors detailed on their Facebook page and then turned into a picture book. The book was originally self-published, then bought by Little, Brown as part of a three-book deal.

Is it any good?

The big cast of characters (farm dogs, three sheep, a goat, a rooster, a fox, and more) and fractured story line make it a bit hard for kids to follow. In the first half of the story, the farm animals sweetly rally around Sweet Pea not only to alert Farmer John to her illness but also to help her recover. The human characters, including Farmer John, his wife, and veterinarian Alison also model for young readers how to take care of animals. In the second half of the book, Sweet Pea and friends enjoy a sleepover party that veers toward the fantastic. The connection between the two story lines is a promise from Alison that Sweet Pea can have a sleepover party with her friends when she recovers. While both story lines are cute, little kids may get confused by the long and meandering story as well as by the contrast between real-life events in the first half and make-believe ones in the second. After all, sheep really do get injured legs and fevers, and vets really do make middle-of-the-night farm visits, but sheep don’t really dance under disco balls or have favorite bedtime stories.

John Churchman's photo illustrations are striking, with midnight blue backdrops flecked with the whites and yellows of house lights and stars. But younger kids may have a hard time discerning the shapes in the dark, collage-style backgrounds.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the animals work together to help Sweet Pea. How does Laddie help? How about Prem the goat and sheep Sunny and Violet? How about the other farm animals?

  • How do you like how the photos are presented? How does the art help tell the story?

  • How do the farmers take care of Sweet Pea? How do we take care of our animals?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and animal tales

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