________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 20 . . . . January 26, 2018


Fancy Goat.

Jeremy Holmes & Justin Gregg. Illustrated by Jeremy Holmes & Ranke De Vries.
Antigonish, NS: Outside the Lines Press, 2017.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.99.
ISBN 978-0-9958692-1-9.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Rebecca King.

** /4



My goat was born Fancy.
He has his own chauffeur.
He even has a masseuse.
My goat doesn't eat grass.
He prefers éclairs.
He sleeps in a Fancy bed.
He has a taste for fine art.

The little girl in this story lists the various ways her goat is different from normal goats while, complaining that she doesn't want to do all these fancy things all the time, and that it would be nice if her goat would do normal things, like put away the laundry. She vacillates, however, admiring the goat's skill at ballet and his ability to fly a plane. She even scores the goat against other animals on Cuteness, Huggability, Elegance, Vanity, Resplendency, and Ear length, the initial letters of which spell "chèvre". The goat scores perfect 10's in all categories, out-performing the other four animals (except when the cat scores a 12 for vanity). The little girl's final comment is that, if you think her goat is fancy, you should see her grandpa who has just arrived for a tea party, wearing a tiara and a feather boa with his coveralls. After tea, grandpa and the goat go out to sit on the tractor and look at a full moon, one wearing a tiara and the other a top hat.

     Fancy Goat is written by Jeremy Holmes and Justin Gregg. Holmes is a music therapist who works with children in songwriting workshops, and he has a performance career with the children's singing group, The Little Ditties. He also provided the drawings for the book, while Ranke De Vries provided the complementary watercolour completion of the drawings. Justin Gregg, who has a doctorate specializing in dolphin communication and linguistics, has written two scholarly, yet humourous, books on dolphins. He also blogs.

     Fancy Goat is a tricky book to evaluate. Having read that Holmes is a singer/songwriter, I expected some rhythm and perhaps a rhyme pattern to the text. Rhythm and rhyme pattern are hard to evaluate with one sentence per page. So, I copied out the entire text to see it all on one page. Yes, definitely, no rhythm and no rhyme pattern. What we have here is a series of relatively absurd statements about a goat, accompanied by colourful, cartoonish pictures.

He has his own chauffeur. [See goat in wagon pulled by dog]
He even has a masseuse. [See goat on its back with cat doing happy paws on its stomach]
He has a taste for fine art. [See goat eating drawings off refrigerator door]

      Okay, colourful drawings with nice details that work well with the text to produce humour. Do I love it? Do I hate it? Mmh.

     Next step, enlist a friend's six-year-old granddaughter for field testing. Isla and I met for a story session. I read three books to her, including Fancy Goat. Isla enjoyed the whole experience -- sitting together just the two of us, the undivided attention of an adult, the stories themselves. Each book required some explanation of background or of particular words (e.g. chauffeur, masseuse, éclairs, monocle, cravats, cufflinks), but Fancy Goat was her favourite. All three books had attractive illustrations, but perhaps the cartoonishness of Fancy Goat won her attention. Using CM's star rating, Isla gave Fancy Goat ***½ /4.

      The promotional material accompanying the book states that Fancy Goat encourages imagination and that "the adults in [the girl's] life allow her to express her creative side without telling her that 'goats don't wear pearls.'" That may be so. I find it absurd and humourous and colourfully illustrated.


Rebecca King, now retired, was the Library Support Specialist for the Halifax (NS) Regional School Board.

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