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Rationale - Re-telling - Translation - Activities - Reflection

Country: Portugal
Language: Portuguese
Title: A ovelha... negra (A sheep... black)
Author: Malaquias C.
Publisher: Texto Editora (1988)
Chosen by: Isabel Vila Maior
Professor, Escola Superior de Educašao, Apt. 125, 7300 Portalegre, Portugal.

Rationale for choosing the book:
-Quality of illustrations
-Link between common situations (eg looking at the sky and imagining forms, animism and fantasy).
-Open end of story presented as a problem to solve, preferably through dialogue between adult and child.

Seen through the narrator's eyes, a group of clouds in the sky seem to become a flock of sheep which gently waft earthward and begin grazing in a field. Suddenly, a black sheep makes its landing. What happens next? The final words are '... And then?' Nothing is written on the last page of the book. The author addresses parents and educators, telling them how important fantasy is for growing up. She invites them to join children in order to imagine together what happens next.

It happened in the early morning. The sun was about to rise and the sky was dotted with clouds, as if it was a meadow full of little sheep.
Looking carefully at them, I found that they all had a little face, with little eyes as well.
Almost without noticing, they started unrolling and came down slowly as if they had parachutes.
As soon as they landed, they started eating. After all, they really were hungry.
It was the end of the story, or at least it seemed so, when suddenly and with a lot of noise, I finally saw the black sheep coming down.
... And then?

NB This is a working translation for educational purpose only.

Activities for use in school:
1. Ask children to tell the story from the illustrations. Then read the story to them in order to compare both versions.
2. Ask children to imagine what happens next and complete the story either visually, in written form, or both.
3. Ask the children to tell the story from the point of view of the sheep who fell from the sky, keeping the order of events and narrative of the original text.
4. The sheep fell down into the countryside near a small village in Portugal. Get the children to find out as much as they can about this country and write a dialogue between two villagers who experienced the event. This might later be recorded as a radio play.
5. Discuss similarities and differences between the two kinds of sheep. (This might generate a debate on the right to be different, cultural differences, racism etc.)

Reflection: Focus on possible encounters with children from another country. Which things helped/might help you to get on well with them.

NB Further literature and language-based activities can be found in
Picture Books sans Frontières
available from or

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ncrcl November 2004