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Rationale - Re-telling - Translation - Activities - Reflection

Country: Germany
Language: German (also published in French, Catalan, Galician & Greek)
Title: Der Schäfer Raul (Raul the Shepherd)
Author: Eva Muggenthaler
Publisher: Peter Hammer Verlag (1998)
ISBN: 3-87294-754-0
Chosen by: Dr Emer O'Sullivan: Institut fùr Jugendbuchforschung, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Grüneburgplatz 1, 60323 Frankfurt, Germany

Rationale for choosing the book:
An innovative visual narrative, which can be universally understood, yet retains elements of German culture and linguistic reference.

The shepherd Raul, tired of his rural life, sets off to live in a big city. Unbeknown to him, his sheep attach themselves to a thread of wool from his jumper and this allows them to follow him. Throughout his train journey and subsequent adventures the red thread, which signifies the presence of his sheep, is with him. Even when Raul finally falls in love in the town, he is drawn back to the countryside. Finally, his girlfriend realises that for Raul it is impossible to separate the town from the country - in the town he thinks of the country but in the country he thinks of the town.

1. Raul the shepherd counted his sheep every morning. Then he lay in the meadow and listened to the sheep as they chewed the grass. The days passed and the weeks passed.
2. One morning, Raul didn't count any sheep. He looked in the mirror instead. 'I look like a sheep', he thought and was annoyed because he was vain. He counted his money, went to the station and took a train to the city.
3. He soon found a small apartment on the fourth floor of a large house in the city. He hung out his washing on the balcony. The neighbours went outside and thought 'It smells very good here today.' And they dreamed of green meadows and white clouds. The next day Raul went shopping in a large department store. He tried on lots of suits. When he saw himself in the mirror, he said 'Yes, I'm an elegant gentleman now'. He bought the nicest suit, folded his old clothes into a bundle and threw them in the bin.
4. Then Raul went to a posh bar. 'It smells so nice in here all of a sudden', they noted with surprise. They imagined broad meadows. A woman came in and sat down beside Raul.' May I introduce myself? I'm Barbara.' Raul blushed. Then he introduced himself. They stayed and chatted until very late. 'Would you like to come to dinner tomorrow evening?' Raul asked Barbara. Barbara nodded and said goodbye [[Literally shook his hand - common when friends and acquaintances meet or part in Germany]]. 'Till tomorrow, then.'
5. Raul took a seat in the underground train. An old man with a poodle sat opposite him. The dog sniffed Raul's trousers and dreamed of sheep and grass meadows. The train stopped. A sheep got in and went over to Raul. The people stared at it. The poodle pulled at its lead. At the next stop, three sheep got in and went over to Raul. The poodle barked. The train stopped again. Raul got out in a great hurry. The four sheep followed him.
6. By the time he reached the apartment there were fourteen of them. Raul was too tired to be annoyed and went to bed. The fourteen sheep joined him.
7. The following morning Raul washed himself. 'I need a hair cut', he thought. He locked the sheep in his apartment and went to look for a barber.
8. When he went in, the barber asked 'What can I do for you?'. I'd like something elegant, please', Raul answered. 'A short cut then', said the barber. 'And are those sheep yours? We don't do sheep.' The sheep looked in the window as Raul was shorn. He paid for his hairstyle and went into the large department store to buy something for dinner that evening. The sheep were hungry. Three chewed a shirt sleeve, one ate fresh cucumbers and five tried out some liquorice.
9. When Raul got back to his apartment he counted twenty-three sheep. 'You have to get out of here', he screamed at them. 'Baa, baa, baa, behh', the sheep answered. Someone rang his doorbell. 'Oh my goodness, that will be Barbara!' He quickly stuffed the sheep into his furniture and opened the door. 'Police. Good evening. Are there any sheep hidden in your apartment?' 'Baa, baa' came from under the sofa, from behind the television and from the cupboard.
10. 'Aha, so we were on the right track after all. These animals have been up to quite a bit of mischief.'
11. The police took the twenty-three sheep away with them. When they got to the station they got down to work straight away. They filed away one sheep report after the other into the fat police files.
Report No. 401 89 2 770                                                                                       14.07.1996
[Photos          Sheep left,                                     front                                                   right]
Sheep No 04-                                                                                    no further details known
Statement when accused of shoplifting:                                               Baa, baa, behh
[hoofprints]                                         FR right front hoof
                                                         FL left front hoof
                                                         BR right back hoof
                                                         BL left back hoof
FR        FL        BR        BL
Evidence:                                         E1: Evidence found in mouth:
                                                             half a button (colourless)
                                                             thread (black, green)
                                                             fluff (bent, long, short)
                                                      E2: Digested evidence:
                                                            little round balls (brown)
                                                            half a button (colourless)
                                                   The evidence is insufficient to justify accusation.
                                                   Hence the order to release sheep No 04 immediately.

Signature of the accused:             Signature of the officer on duty:

13.When the doorbell rang for the second time, it was Barbara. Raul served dinner. They drank wine and chatted until very late. Barbara smelt his hair. 'I'd like to lie with you in a green meadow', she said and they lay down on Raul's sofa.
14. 'Baa, baa' echoed through the stairwell. 'Quiet', screamed the neighbours. The twenty-three sheep were in Raul's sitting room again. 'Are those your sheep?' Barbara asked.
15. He stood up, said nothing and left the apartment, went past the neighbours, out into the street, past the large department store, past the posh bar until he could no longer see the city buildings. He looked at the dark sky and soon he could hear the sheep chewing the grass. They had caught up with him. 'But I'm going back to Barbara and the city tomorrow!' He shouted at them.
16. Barbara sat on Raul's sofa and stroked the sheep. It was sheep No. 24 which had been in the bathtub all day long. It was now as small as a woollen pullover which had shrunk in the wash. 'We 'll go and look for your shepherd tomorrow', Barbara promised. They both fell asleep and dreamed of meadows, daisies and Raul the shepherd.

NB This is a working translation for educational purpose only.

Activities for use in school:
1.  The book works with at least two German metaphors: one of them is the 'roter Faden', literally, the 'red thread', which is a figurative term for the theme of a story and can be seen running through the pages of the book.
i)  How does the author use the red thread to link the events in the story?
ii) Write a short piece for the local paper, describing Raul's journey to your town.

2. The second metaphor plays on the German 'jemanden nicht riechen können', literally 'not to like the smell of someone', or figuratively, 'to hate someone's guts'. Here the author works with its opposite. People, especially Barbara, really like the smell of Raul, which shows that they are very fond of him.
i) What effect does this have on your understanding of Raul as a person?
ii) Write a character description of him, explaining what he is like to a friend who has not read the book.

3.  Look at pages 19 and 20, where the sheep are arrested by the police  in 'hoof cuffs'!.
i) Have a look at the details written about the sheep. Can you work out what they say?
ii) Are there any words which are similar in your language? 
iii) Do you think think this detailed documentation would be needed in your country if somebody was arrested?
iv) Create a file for one of your pets or a fictitious animal.

Reflection: Working with, metaphors and figurative elements of speech - culturally specific or otherwise - which are translated into pictures could be just one of the interesting tasks linked to using the book in different countries. Linguistic parallels can then be made.

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