Dealing with differences and diversity, in whatever form, and the discrimination that can result from them can be a very tricky subject to deal with. Trying to teach children about diversity, intolerance and embracing who you can be a challenge. That’s where books can be a big help. There are plenty of children’s books around that deal with challenging subject matter, breaking it down into child-friendly form and one such book is Martha the Blue Sheep.
Martha the Blue Sheep is written by British-born author and journalist Gabrielle Yetter and illustrated by Cambodian artists Daro Sam & Monnyreak Ket. It is a children’s picture book that deals with issues of differences, intolerances, kindness, bullying and self-worth in a very unique way. Martha wasn’t born different, in fact, she was an just an ordinary, same as the others white woolly sheep, but an accident caused her to be different and she has trouble accepting she is different.
Martha is a very shy sheep and doesn’t like attention being drawn to her, but she is just like the rest of the flock of white sheep in the field. One day, a clumsy accident with some blue paint sees her coat change from white to sky blue. This ensures that she will always be noticed and stand out among all the other sheep, ridiculed by the rest of the flock. Her obvious difference from the rest of the flock causes her to be very unhappy and leads to her withdrawing from the other sheep, causing loneliness, sadness and fear of rejection from her own family.
But one day she does a good deed for another animal that could have had disastrous consequences. This sees her making a new friend and also sees Martha’s differences work to her advantage, changing the lives of all the entire flock of sheep and leads to them accepting her for who she is.
Overall, Martha the Blue Sheep is a very good children’s picture book story about differences, intolerance and acceptance, whether by others or from yourself. It is a story with a very positive message about celebrating differences, your own and others, and the need to fit in – don’t be just a run of the mill white sheep. It is a subtle story of embracing who you and not being the same as everyone else; we are all different in various ways, whether you can see the difference or not.
It is written in a very simple fashion so that young children will be able to grasp the concept and the meaning of the message.
It has been beautifully illustrated by concept artist Daro Sam and Monnyreak Ket so that it complements the story extremely well. The illustrations are very bright, bold and drawn to a very unique and high standard.
Martha the Blue Sheep is a story for children that adults could also learn a lot from. It is told in a very unique way, highlighting how differences can be seen in good and bad ways and how acceptance will lead to a much more harmonious life.
A very good children’s story with a powerful and meaningful message. With wonderful illustrations that bring the story to life, it is a story that all children and adults will enjoy and can take something from.
RRP: £6.95 (Paperback)