Picture Books


: Sylvia van Ommen

illustrator: Sylvia van Ommen

The Surprise

A humorous wordless picture book about a modern 'city sheep' (who drives a scooter!) She shaves her luxuriant fleece and dyes it to make a sweater. But why? The surprise in this book is really not just a surprise in colour and shape.

Sylvia van Ommen skillfully grabs your curiosity as a reader, keeping the surprise till the very end. And then you might find yourself wanting to start all over again...

Rights sold to Germany, Italy, Mexico, U.K., U.S.A., Korea.


Included in NEW BOOKS FOR MISSOURI STUDENTS, 2008 edition produced by the Missouri State Teacher Association


"A feel-good tale ... bright in both mood and color."
-Kirkus Reviews

"True to its title, this quiet, wordless story will keep readers wondering just what the protagonist, a sheep, is up to. ...Obviously she is preparing something special-but what is it? The final page turn brings a satisfying resolution to the mystery. Even the very young will be able to follow the story by "reading" the uncluttered, outlined illustrations. The vignettes of the sheep dying, washing, and blow-drying the wool while it is still on her body and then shaving it off are priceless. Her trips via motorcycle, pocketbook slung across her shoulder, bag of wool strapped on the back, and the scenes depicting her struggle to keep her eyes open as she plies her knitting needles reveal her dogged dedication to her task. A fine addition for wordless-book collections."
-School Library Journal

"[V]an Ommen portrays a sequence of initially mysterious actions that conclude with a sweet, satisfying message about generosity. ...[C]harming compositions in thickly applied gouache clearly chronicle the sequence of events. ...A crisp story-in-pictures for prereaders, or for use with older children in writing exercises. This is especially suited as a way to practice "process" vocabulary words (first, next, then, finally, and so on)."

"This sly, wordless story follows Sheep as he prepares a special gift for his friend Giraffe. ...[B]right, spare paintings offer just enough detail and information to keep pages turning. ...Sheep is clearly a cool, confident fellow, and the fact that he runs his various errands on a cherry-red motorbike only adds to his appealing élan. Youngsters should certainly get a giggle out of several visual gags in this slim story, particularly Giraffe's satisfied countenance as he admires his new duds."
-Publishers Weekly

other books by Sylvia van Ommen: