Monday, November 30, 2009

Cecil the Lost Sheep

Cecil the Lost Sheep is Andrew McDonough's very funny retelling of Jesus' parable of the lost sheep. My son and I laughed aloud as Cecil sought to relieve his boredom by running away. He thought, "Maybe I could run away and, and. . .get a bike. . . or join a band." Silly, cartoon-style pictures show Cecil imaging life on a motorcycle or as a rock star. After some stealthy escape moves and some vigorous rock-climbing, Cecil gets stuck on the side of a mountain. There, he wonders what his shepherd would say if he called for help.

Cecil knows running away was wrong, and he is afraid the shepherd might crack him with a stick, drag him home by his leg and "tie [him] to a tree without any dinner." Meanwhile, the shepherd is counting sheep (who have names like Kevin, Emily and Abdul) and realizes Cecil is missing. He immediately follows Cecil's tracks, and before long, he has rescued Cecil from the cliff. Cecil is delighted when he does NOT get cracked on the behind, or dragged home, but is lifted onto the shepherd's shoulders and carried back to the fold. Not only does Cecil not have to miss dinner, but he is given a party with birthday cake, balloons and juice boxes.

The book ends with "Cecil's Page," which gives ideas for discussion before and after the story, and the text of the Bible passage the story is based on.

What I Like: I particularly like McDonough's smart, witty phrasing and creative take on a well-known story. While he doesn't detract from the biblical message of the parable, explaining Cecil ran away on purpose and then worries about being punished is something every child can relate to. Cecil's relief at being found and not getting into trouble is almost tangible.

McDonough's use of humor is engaging. He begins, "What sort of animals does this man have? Rabbits? No, he doesn't have rabbits. Giraffes? Well, he might have giraffes, but they don't get mentioned in this story. Sheep? Yes, he has sheep." He captures the reader's interest with silly questions in the beginning, and keeps their attention throughout the book.

I also like the scene where the shepherd is counting his sheep by name. "One, Michael. Two, Kevin. Three, Annette. . .ninety-six, Meredith. Ninety-seven, the other Meredith. . . ." The way McDonough writes this scene makes it clear the shepherd missed Cecil by name--he was not just a number. McDonough drives this point home in his discussion questions, which ask us to discuss how much we love our pets, and then think about how much God must love us, "if God is the shepherd and we are the sheep. . . ."

My son giggled at the end to see the sheep at the party wearing birthday hats and sipping juice boxes.

What I Dislike: The pictures are cartoonish and funny, but not cute.

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: 4-7

Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-310-71944-1; Paperback, $4.99

Buy it Now at for $3.99

OR Buy it at for $4.99.

View other CCBR reviews of the Cecil and Friends series here.

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Mike Hormuth said...

Thanks for all the reviews! Order some of the Cecil and Friends books for a Baptism gift.


gbuffer said...

Hi we have created an interactive e-book on iPad for Cecil and Friends book “Dave The Donkey” for Easter.

You can also find the first book “Cecil The Lost Sheep”


Grant Hull