Brave Charlotte by Anu Stohner and Henrike Wilson

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Brave Charlotte by Anu Stohner and Henrike Wilson

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Claire Storey
Reviewed by Claire Storey
Summary: Charlotte is one of a kind: a sheep with a mind of her own and a daring bravery that has the other sheep worried. Right from the start Charlotte was different, rather than hanging around her mother like the other sheep she was off on adventures, climbing trees, crossing streams and ignoring Jack the sheep dog. The language is well-suited to early readers and certainly up for sharing with younger children. It lacks some of the sing-song qualities that have become increasingly popular again of late and as such is probably not a book that will be requested night after night.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 32 Date: February 2007
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 978-0747581024

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Charlotte is one of a kind: a sheep with a mind of her own and a daring bravery that has the other sheep worried. Right from the start Charlotte was different, rather than hanging around her mother like the other sheep she was off on adventures, climbing trees, crossing streams and ignoring Jack the sheep dog. We follow Charlotte as her escapades get more and more daring and dangerous through to the point where Charlotte's bravery is turned to good use as she helps rescue the shepherd when he breaks his leg.

Brave Charlotte is a collaboration between author Anu Stohner and illustrator Henrike Wilson and is a translated text. Given that it is not primarily an English text, the language is well-suited to early readers and certainly up for sharing with younger children. It lacks some of the sing-song qualities that have become increasingly popular again of late and as such is probably not a book that will be requested night after night.

The illustrations are, in the main, very good. I really warmed to a cuddly Charlotte and felt that the characters of the sheep came through quite well. As the story takes Charlotte on adventures through the night many of the pictures are fairly dark and on one spread this results in black text on a grey background which I found quite hard on the eyes. Elsewhere in the text a dark background results in white text so it's not an issue.

My main issue with the book is the situations in which Charlotte finds herself. Although it is unclear whether Charlotte is a child or an adult she is the character that the reader is asked to identify with. Although many of Charlotte's exploits are innoccuous (climbing mountains or trees) many are, in my opinon, a little less so. Charlotte's behaviour is touted as bravery but whilst it might seem brave to swim in a fast running stream and cross a fast, busy road, I don't really think that this is the kind of bravery I want to promote to my son. If Charlotte is brave how do I say that it's dangerous and that dangerous situations are not simply overcome by bravery? Similarly, a lift is accepted from a passing stranger - whatever happened to "Stranger Danger"? Coupled with Charlotte ignoring the shepherd and the tsk, tsk's of the older sheep the message that I took from thebook is not, I think, what was intended.

The idea behind this book is sound but its execution lets it down rather. The text is predominantly good but, for my liking, a couple of the situations are inappropriate. Perhaps over-caution on my part and, undoubtedly, the feeling that one is left with at the end of the book is, I think, the intended message; that by being brave you can help people and age or size is no barrier to that.

Better examples of bravery and breaking from the mould can be found in books such as The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson or, if it's sheep you're after then Jackie Frecn's Pete the Sheep might be a better bet.

With thanks to the publishers, Bloomsbury for sending the book.

Buy Brave Charlotte by Anu Stohner and Henrike Wilson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Brave Charlotte by Anu Stohner and Henrike Wilson at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Brave Charlotte by Anu Stohner and Henrike Wilson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Brave Charlotte by Anu Stohner and Henrike Wilson at Amazon.com.


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Jill said:

Isn't Charlotte a grown up sheep though? Don't adults accomplish big acts of derring do to save others? I'd see what you mean if she was a lamb but she's a sheep, right?

I'd miss sing-song rhythm in the text as this certainly looks like one for the littler of little ones going by the illustrations. The pictures are also maybe just a little bit too pretty for me.

Also, I tend to prefer the more anarchic picture books, as children's lives are SO proscribed, I think they definitely need somewhere where rules can be safely broken and books are that place. I also think they can distinguish fantasy considerably better than most of us realise.

I think I'd like the things you dislike about this book and dislike the things you liked!

Claire said:

Point taken Jill. I don't think it's clear how "old" Charlotte is, but she's the character the reader is asked to identify with, hence my caution.

I guess, as with any book, an adult's eye is needed to see where an explanation might be required if the child sees fit to act in a manner we do not like.