Book Review: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep

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The first time I heard of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, I was reading Simon Savidge’s Books of 2015 post. Goats and Sheep was found at the end of his Part 2 and is named one of the books he “really, really, really loved” in 2015. I was rolling along, enjoying his choices, because so very many of them were on my TBR, when I came upon this blue book with a goat on the cover entitled, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep. I had never heard of it? What I normally do is check to see if the library is bringing it in, or if Chapters has it to order. I was completely shocked, honestly, to find the library was indeed bringing in this book with this funny little title. Up went the hold on it! And when I went to pick it up was told it was in high demand, so I would have to read within 7 days. How odd for a book I had never heard of before?!

Well, I think I made it to page 25 and decided, I NEED to own this one. By page 25 I had written out so many sentences, had a permanent silly little smile slapped to my face and just marvelled and crowed at the cleverness of every single sentence! I HAD to own this – there was no way I was racing through this one so it could be returned in haste to the library. This is one that requires savouring. For certain, when I hit upon this gem of a sentence I already knew I was in for a great read, “I watched my mother’s face argue with a smile. ” 

The whole book is FILLED with clever and sparkling sentences and thoughts like that one above. As Savidge refers to it, this book is a “corker”. This is a complete gem of a book and if you read only a handful of books this year, please, please, make The Trouble with Goats and Sheep one of them. I’ve been responsible for others already going out and buying it, and I truly hope that they adore it as much as I did. I cannot imagine that they won’t. It is impossible when you have these incredibly clever and awesome sentences popping out at every turn, and you have characters like Grace and Tilly responsible for bringing such joy into your world.

It’s been years since I’ve read a book as fantastically enjoyable as this one! I could easily have written down so many more sentences to share, but honestly I would have been transcribing the entire book. Here are a few of the gems I copied:

“Faith had been trapped within the folds of his clothes, and my lungs were filled with the scent of tapestry and candles.”

“The words stayed in his eyes for a few seconds…”

“It was a whisper that wanted to be a shout, and it left his mouth wrapped in spit and fury.”

(This is all by page 25 mind you!)

“I started to speak, but her face didn’t suggest that it wanted to have a conversation.”

“…a whole audience of Margarets, spectating on his misery.”

As well, the pages 159-162 hold such brilliant and fantastic thoughts about the library, books, adventures and more of Grace’s awesomeness. If I could, I would transcribe those pages, but then again, I would be transcribing the entire book. Just read it. Please.

The premise of this book? Mrs. Creasy is missing and the Avenue is all in a tizzy about it. After Grace has attended the Sunday’s service and heard the vicar talk of a very puzzling story about goats and sheep, and which sit on the right side of God and which sit on the left – she decides that her and her best friend Tilly will set about to solve the mystery where Mrs. Creasy disappeared to and also to find where God is on the Avenue.

What unfolds is a marvellous and truly clever story about the secrets everyone keeps behind their closed doors, the trouble you have discerning who are the sheep and who are the goats? It is a brilliantly told coming-of-age story with two of the most charming girls and has the very best touches of a cozy mystery with all those secrets everyone wants to remain hidden. There are many clever moments where Grace and Tilly baffle over who is it they should consider to be the sheep or goats. It’s excellent. It’s brilliant. I give it an enthusiastic 5-stars. Grace and Tilly for the win!

Enjoy! I’m certain you will!

Literary Hoarders Penny