Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Sheep-Pig

I'm not sure why I was never aware of the fact that the movie Babe was based on a children's book. I'm equally unsure how I actually stumbled upon the book The Sheep Pig last year. But I did, and it quickly became a favorite read-aloud for my 7 year old.

The Sheep Pig follows the story of Babe, a pig thusly named by his adoptive dog mother, Fly. Fly is a sheep dog on a farm in England and has no respect for the sheep she herds. When Maa, an elderly ewe, is brought to the barn to recover from illness, Babe befriends her and comes to realize that sheep are not quite as dumb as Fly has led Babe to believe. Babe wants nothing more than to follow in Fly's footsteps and become a sheep pig, but he discovers that the sheep are much more cooperative to a friendly word than angry gestures.

When Babe learns the secret password for inspiring the sheep's cooperation, his success as a sheep pig is nearly guaranteed.
"I may be ewe, I may be ram,
I may be mutton, may be lamb,
But on the hoof or on the hook,
I bain't so stupid as I look."

Babe enters the annual sheep dog trials with anxiety and doubt, but through his experience, the entire farm, Fly included, realizes that a gentle word trumps fearful compulsion.