I cannot tell you how many times I have read Where is the Green Sheep? I can however tell you that I never tire of it and neither does Miss Mimi. We both enjoy the searching for and the longing to know where the green sheep may be. It is written so perfectly, with gorgeous rhyming words and those repetitive sentences, that it would be hard to believe that Mem Fox had trouble writing it in the first place.
Upon reading an article Mem Fox had written on the writings of Where is the Green Sheep?, I realised that the final result of this book had been painstakingly written and rewritten over a year or more and had in fact not even originally resembled anything close to what it is now. The first story was about a goat laughing at an unfortunately coloured sheep and the journey of her finding somewhere to fit it.
Mem explains that trying to find the right words, the right amount of trouble and the perfect rhyme was misery for her and almost gave up until she was struck with a sudden epiphany in the shower that left her hunched soaking wet over her computer writing this version. Her toughest critics (babies and toddlers) must be so pleased that she stuck it out, because this book is a favourite with all.
How does she do it? How does she find those beautiful, just right words?
“How did I know how to make these changes, and how did I know what changes to make? How did I know about the rightness of rhythm, and the riddle of syllables? How did I know that sounds in a sentence can paint pictures in words? These things cannot be taught. No one can teach them. No one taught me. No one, thank God, killed the language or mutilated the literature I loved by hacking it into little pieces and teaching it to me little bit, by little bit. No! I was instead blessed many times over by having people read aloud to me. My mother and my father, my teachers and my professors all poured into my willing ear the finest prose, the most glorious stories, the most uplifting verse, and the most inspiring drama written in the English language. My ear was my teacher.
So you can imagine—can’t you?—how distressed I am whenever I hear of adults who interact with children daily, but never read aloud to them, in homes and child care centres, in school and libraries. Children depend upon us for their future. We have to read aloud to them. There is no choice. We have to allow their ears to be their teachers. As we read to them they will learn about language, and all the ways of using it, and about life, and all the ways of living it. How can we not read aloud to the children in our lives?” – Mem Fox, taken from http://www.memfox.com/welcome.html
I adore her stance on reading aloud to children. I hope my daughter remembers with warm memories all the love and bonding and special times we read together aloud each night.
* Something that Miss Mimi and I do now that she has a firm grasp with her memory recall, I will read a sentence right up until the last 2 words then will have Mimi recall the rest. I am astounded at how fast her vocabulary is growing and the length of her memory knows no bounds.