Review Blog

Oct 13 2010

The Sheep on the Fourth Floor by Leonie Thorpe

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Auckland: HarperCollins, 2010. ISBN 978 1869508139.
At the South Pacific Research Laboratory, Anna's mother does research on sheep, but when Anna and several of her class go there for a class excursion they are appalled at what they see. One of the group photographs the dying sheep, lying on the floor of its cage, on its side. Anna resolves to help that sheep, at the very least die with some dignity, after seeing her mother's email, permitting it to be put down.
What follows is a funny, morally charged story about how Anna achieves her aim. Mixed up with her story is that of gifted student, Kurt, the one who takes the photographs. His recent behaviour has attracted the attention of the local police, and he is on edge. Both of these stories come to a climax as Anna finally realises that her parents have not been telling her the truth, and so when she sees the email to her mother, she acts.
Now and again the author tries a little too hard to make the reader understand the moral issue, but all in all, it is a good read. The front cover and the blurb all add to the inducement to read, and the plot and main characters invite the reader into their world. The sheep's point of view is given in chapters in which it speaks, but these are usually quite funny. The theme, about animal experimentation is told well, and readers will have a sound idea of the issues involved when they finish the read.
Fran Knight

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