farming + fibre production - how wool gets from the sheep's back to our back

by Simone Kain and Ben Hood - Hello Friday Publishing, 2015
ages 2 - 8 years / s.t.e.m.


A little while ago, one of our young friends was going with his parents and grandmother to pick out some wool for a new jumper. (Everyone knew it would be purple since that was indisputably his favourite colour.) He insisted on taking his ukulele. As any parent of a strong-willed child knows, sometimes it’s just easier to agree. And that’s what his parents did – lucky for them. Once they were surrounded by beautiful skeins of wool, the young ukulele player found a spot, started to strum and sang … “Baa, baa black sheep…”

Gorgeous child. Lovely too that he knew where the wool originated.

In George the Farmer’s latest book, George is shearing a sheep. He brings in shearers from New Zealand to help – they have 900 sheep to shear over three days.

There’s a whole lot of expertise in growing and shearing sheep - there’s wool-classing to be done, cleaning, carding and weaving. Most of which we tend to overlook when we use wool products in the course of everyday living.

This is a great book for a quick and entertaining overview of how wool gets from the sheep’s back to our back. It’s woven around George and his family and gives little insights into their family at the same time, making it relatable even for children who have never seen a sheep station.

The George the Farmer books tell about farming life in story form and they're intentionally not written in a particularly lyrical fashion, they’re more about passing on information and knowledge in a relatable and fun way. For example –

Did you know that if a sheep is ready for shearing it’s important that they don’t get wet? Or that a shearer can shear up to 200 sheep a day? Or that the record for shearing a sheep is 1 minute and 30 seconds? All new information for me!

George the Farmer has a website where you can buy the book, complete with a plush toy, t-shirts and hats that your little farmers might like.

(Just a note - George the Farmer lives in a fairly male dominated environment. That’s probably an accurate reflection of some areas of primary industry, even though women like my sister are fully involved in running cattle stations. Ruby is referred to as George’s wife – which she is of course - but I’d probably call her Ruby the Farmer as I read, and I’d probably do the same with Susan who is Kev the shearer’s wife.)

Names in this book - George, Ruby, Kev, Susan, Lucy, Jack, Will