Boo and Baa Have Company by Lena and Olof Landström is charming picture book filled with droll humor. The story is translated from Swedish, and stars Boo and Baa, a male and female sheep whose good intentions get them into sticky situations. Other books featuring these characters include Boo and Baa in Windy Weather, Boo and Baa at Sea, and Boo and Baa on a Cleaning Spree. In Boo and Baa Have Company, the two sheep are raking leaves when they notice a cat sitting on a high tree branch. Believing that the cat is afraid to climb down, Boo and Baa try various methods to tempt it from the tree. Their attempts to help go awry, leading to slapstick humor in the illustrations paired with deadpan humor in the text. Boo and Baa eventually decide that maybe the cat prefers to be in the tree, and they go inside and go to sleep. At the end of the story, only the reader sees that the cat has climbed in through the window and fallen asleep on the rug in the sheep’s bedroom.
Boo and Baa Have Company features colorful line drawings. Boo, Baa, and the cat are the only characters, and they all have very expressive faces and bodies. On some pages, the text describes exactly what is happening in the illustrations. For example, when Baa is greasing the axle of the wheelbarrow, the text reads, “She greases the axle.” This supportive relationship between image and text could be helpful for young readers who are unfamiliar with the concept of greasing an axle. On other pages, however, the spare text provides droll commentary on the action taking place. For example, one attempt to rescue the cat leaves Boo stranded in the tree. When Baa tries to use a rope to lower Boo to the ground, both sheep fly into the air and fall into a leaf pile. Instead of describing the action on these pages, the text simply reads, “Baa is lighter than Boo. She hasn’t eaten any sandwiches. It’s lucky there is a pile of leaves.” Text like this requires the reader to pay attention to the illustrations. When I read this book aloud to kindergarteners, I had several opportunities to invite the kids to describe what was happening in the story. These listeners especially enjoyed the spread where Baa is making a variety of “disgusting” sandwiches, including a cucumber sandwich and a sardine sandwich. I shared Boo and Baa Have Company at a fall-themed storytime. It was nice to have a book in which autumn is the setting but not the focus of the story. This funny book would work well year-round as a read-aloud for preschool and up.
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