Annabel’s Dance, by Diane Jackson Hill

Annabel of Annabel’s Dance is no ordinary sheep. Annabel has a distaste for the shearing shed due to her supersensitive senses (it smells bad and is loud) and instead, she’s been hiding from the farmer and has been secretly growing her coat to the perfect length… . Until one day it’s so long it trips her up and she has to join the pack and be shorn. The other sheep think Annabel is quite odd, but only in a kindly sort of way and come quickly to her rescue when she calls for help.

Once shorn, the other sheep decide she’s all right after all. They also decide that maybe shearing isn’t so great after all and take a leaf out of Annabel’s book and hide at shearing time.

There’s a jaunty rhythm to the language in the book. Author Diane Jackson Hill keeps the book clipping along as a pace fast enough to keep my toddlers attention.

Lois Berry’s illustrations are energetic pencil drawings, fitting with Annabel’s mess-loving aesthetic.

However, while the celebration of difference is a nice feel-good theme for a story, there is a great predictability to Annabel’s Dance. It feels like it’s all been done before and with no new twists to the story – the farmer and his wife are very typical, why couldn’t the farmer have been a woman, for example? – the book is nice, not special.


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Heidi North-Bailey Formerly working in publishing in London, Heidi is now a freelance editor and writer based in Auckland. A graduate of the Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University and The Creative Hub, Heidi also has a first class Honours Degree in Screenwriting and Directing from The University of Auckland, Heidi is passionate about good storytelling across genres and loves reading, especially literary and children’s fiction. When not being kept busy as a new mum, Heidi tinkers with poetry and is chipping away at a novel.

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