April 30, 2012

Brave Charlotte

Brave Charlotte
By Anu Stohner
Illustrated by Henrike Wilson
No Author / Illustrator Website
2-4 Preschool Primary Bloomsbury 32 pp.
978-1582346908 Hardcover $16.95

Winner of NY Times Best Illustrated Book Award, Brave Charlotte is the story of a very un-sheep-like sheep named Charlotte. Charlotte is ready for adventure. She climbs trees, leaps over riverbanks and performs feats of daring-do, all while the other sheep in her flock look on with a mixture of disapproval and disbelief. Still, Charlotte continues to do her own thing, and when the old shepherd falls and breaks his leg, her bravery saves the day as she is the only one able or willing to travel the long distance to the farmer's house to get help.

Brave Charlotte is a well-constructed story with a timeless moral - sometimes the outsider, the one who doesn't follow the flock, is important to the whole precisely because she does not quite fit in. This lesson is underscored by the fact that each thing Charlotte does that garners disapproval, (climbing rocks and trees, jumping rivers and crossing roads) is part of her climactic journey to the farmer's house. Far from moralizing however, Stohner's text is natural and charming, with sweet touches like a trucker picking up Charlotte for the last leg of her journey and the farmer recognizing her as she peers in the farmhouse window. Wilson's illustrations are irresistibly appealing with Charlotte pictured as both intrepid and sweetly vulnerable as she sets out on her own. She is a truly appealing heroine, one that fully engages the reader just by being herself. A lovely story beautifully illustrated, Brave Charlotte won't fail to win the day, whether at storytime or at home.

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