Treasured sheep draws a crowd

Treasured sheep draws a crowd
Where is the Green Sheep? turns 10
21 November 2014

Last Sunday was the tenth birthday of the popular children's book, Where is the Green Sheep? To mark the anniversary, the National Library of Australia invited the book's creators Mem Fox and Judy Horacek along as special guests.

Judy draws sheep on demand

Mem and Judy told a large family audience about how they combined their creative forces to produce this classic of children's literature. Mem read the story while Judy drew her sheep live on stage. The children waved their favorite sheep aloft on sticks, to prompt Judy on which sheep to draw next. The event was capped off with an afternoon tea party and sheep-themed cake, cupcakes and, of course, the traditional happy birthday sing along.

A cursory reading of Where is the Green Sheep? might lull the reader into the false belief that writing a children’s picture book is not that hard. After all it’s only 32 pages. However, Mem revealed that the book’s complex poetic structures took over 11 months to finesse.  That’s a lot of sheep meditation to contemplate.

If, like me, you dream of one day creating a successful children’s book of your own and are keen to discover the winning formula, take a minute to read Mem’s advice on the dos and don’ts of the genre.

Teaching is another one of those skills that appears straight forward but belies great complexity. Mem has over twenty years experience in teaching literacy and learning in her previous career as the Associate Professor, Literacy Studies, in the School of Education at Flinders University, South Australia. No wonder, she makes writing children's picture books look so easy. If you're passionate about teaching read her Radical Reflections: Passionate Opinions on Teaching, Learning and Living.

Although the green sheep seems to be lost, there is a happy ending to this story; the green sheep has a home. Mem's papers and all of Judy’s original artwork for Where is the Green Sheep? is in the Library’s collection and three of these illustrations are on display in the Library’s Treasures Gallery (under 'I for Illustration').

Come along and take a look for yourself!

Judy and Mem signing books

Special thanks to Naomi Turner who has travelled over 1,000 kilometres to bring along 3D sheep inspired by the story. The sheep were made for the Hamilton Wild and Woolley Festival in Victoria. 


This post appears on our Behind the Scenes blog. To subscribe to future posts in this blog add to your RSS reader. To subscribe to all National Library of Australia blog posts, use

So proud...our son's 4 yo was given the microphone & asked Mem why the green sheep was lost! :D
It was a great question! I expect your son has a great future as an investigative journalist and or news anchor. I hope he will remember that the first microphone he spoke into was at the National Library of Australia.