Matt Phelan Soars with The Sheep, the Rooster and the Duck

Lynn: sheep, the rooster and the duckDid you know that a sheep, a rooster, and a duck (with a little help from Ben Franklin) saved a young America from a potential French usurper? At least that is the tale according to Matt Phelan in his new illustrated chapter book, The Sheep, the Rooster and the Duck (Harper/Greenwillow, 2022). This charming alternate history is packed with humor, plenty of wonderful real historical tidbits, wacky secret societies, evil plots and brave daring-do. Add mesmerists, Marie Antoinette, 2 bright young French servants, spies and a balloonist mouse and you have quite an adventure.

To begin: Ben Franklin really was living in France in the 1780’s lobbying France for assistance. He really was inventing all sorts of things and a sheep, a rooster and a duck really were the first living pilots in the first hot air balloon flight in 1783. And there really were spies and secret societies all over the place. What more could you want?

So Matt Phelan and his ever-inventive imagination takes all these things and gifts readers with a story. Bernadette, an inventive Sheep, Jean-Luc a military tactician Duck and Pierre, a swashbuckling swordsman Rooster, are the foundation of a secret society trying to prevent Franklin’s notebook full of dangerous designs from being stolen, turned into weapons and endangering France and the world. They enlist the aid of Franklin’s young caretaker and servant Emile. Before you can say Mon Dieu, Franklin and his notebook fall into the hands of the Franz Mesmer and the dastardly Count Cagliostro who is scheming to become the King of America! Zounds!

This delightfully wacky story is peppered with Phelan’s charming black and white illustrations that add wonderfully to the book. And – take heart, although Emile’s quite life is changed forever, the world was saved  – at least for a while.

A wonderful Author’s Note explains the where the origin of the story came from and provides many historical facts.This is a great choice for a classroom read aloud or to enjoy a chapter at a time at bedtime.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s