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The Middle Sheep    by Frances Watts & Judy Watson order for
Middle Sheep
by Frances Watts
Order:  USA  Can
Eerdmans, 2010 (2010)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Frances Watts introduced two sidekicks, a boy and a sheep, in Extraordinary Ernie & Marvelous Maud. Their adventures continue in the author's second chapter book, The Middle Sheep, in which the two are at odds with each other. All because middle sheep Maud makes a decision that puts Ernie Eggers in an awkward position. Judy Watson's pencil-sketch illustrations are exceptionally keen and appealing.

The story opens with only-child Ernie waiting outside of Superheroes Society for Maud to show. Ernie paces as he recalls that he is 'a newish superhero', after training for only a few months. He is pleased with his reflection in the window showing his new hero-outfit. Finally! Maud appears in her pink cape. But, she doesn't look happy.

From there the author takes readers through colorful conversation and romps involving Ernie and his sidekick (as well as other Superheroes, and townsfolk). While the two protagonists walk their assigned route from Main Street on their 'regular Saturday patrol', Maud tells Ernie of her unhappiness with cute-little-sister sheep Mavis, who was the cause of Maud's being late. Ernie, like any good sidekick would do, attempts to build up Maud's mood, telling her: 'Don't be upset, Maud ... you're a superhero sidekick. You stamp out mischief and run down wrongdoers. No sheep has ever committed so much to society.'

For the time being, Ernie's words lift Maude's spirit as they perform heroic deeds. Ernie finds Mrs. Evans' lost purse. Maud gives an unhappy child a ride on her back. They are called to rescue a kitten in a tree. And then it happens. Maud makes the fateful decision ... she wants a sidekick of her own.

The two begin to squabble, putting a strain on their relationship. Ernie is dismayed and distressed, feeling like a loner as he watches Maud pick potential candidates (and, of course, each one is 'in the middle' of their respective families). This series continues to be ingenious and enchanting - readers will want to finish The Middle Sheep cover-to-cover in one sitting.

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