The author’s childhood home on 40 acres of farmland provides the setting for her collection of five “Big Red Shed” stories, which focus on young animals learning lessons about love and acceptance.
In the first story, “The ‘Magic’ of the Big Red Shed,” three kittens discover their family’s ancestry through their mother’s tales. The second story, “The Soft-Hearted Runt,” tells of a Beagle puppy that runs away from home to seek a better life. “Grandfather’s Gift” describes a boy visiting his grandparents’ farm. In the fourth story, “An Angel’s Touch,” a lonely kitten learns the meaning of Christmas; and in the final story, “The Christmas Guest,” a nosy kitten goes on a Christmas adventure to satisfy her curiosity.
Filled with delightful drawings by the author and stories that teach helpful lessons, the book includes humorous antics to amuse young readers. In “An Angel’s Touch,” for example, a kitten mistakes heaven’s gate as the golden arches of McDonald’s and in “The Christmas Guest,” a calico kitten uses her “snoop meter” to uncover a mystery.
Unfortunately, problems concerning design and editorial inconsistencies mar this promising collection. Original drawings are mixed with grainy, cluttered photographs of kittens and puppies (presumably to show the actual animals on which the stories are based). Although four of the stories contain multiple drawings, “The Soft-Hearted Runt” has no artwork. Three of the stories have general themes, while two relate specifically to Christmas, giving the book an unfocused feel.
In addition, complex words (“acquaintance,” “accumulating,” “jovial,” “billowing,” “radiance,” “illuminating,” etc.) will make this story quite challenging for those at the early reader level. Writing errors, such as putting animal thoughts in quotation marks instead of Italics, may confuse young readers. While these inconsistencies affect clarity and reader enjoyment, some children might like learning about the animals’ adventures nonetheless.
Also available in hardcover.