Title: Three Bags Full
Author: Leonie Swann
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
I fell in love with Three Bags Full in it's very first pages. It's a story about Irish sheep who set out on a mission to discover the murderer of their beloved shepherd, George, who has been stabbed through with a spade. It's a story fill with lovable characters; more to point, the sheep, and their thoughts on humans and the way the world works around them and their observations on it all. It's a comedy. It's a mystery. It's a little bit of everything, all rolled into a big, woolly yarn of a tale that is both in turns ingenious, funny and inspiring.
When George's flock discovers his body in the meadow one day, stabbed through with a spade, their initial reaction is panic. But to Miss Maple, the cleverest sheep in all of Glennkill, this is something more than just the death of their shepherd: this is a murder mystery. So, she takes it upon herself to discover the murderer, and eventually she is able to convince the rest of the flock to partake in the mystery as well. George was a kind shepherd and took very good care of his sheep, even reading to them in the evenings, and so they take their knowledge of the human character as they have seen through their stories, and begin on a mission to bring justice to their dear, departed shepherd.
The village of Glennkill itself is inhabited by a colorful cast of characters, all whom we learn about through the eyes of the sheep. The sheep have a keen perspective on human nature and the character buildup of the members of the village. Through the course of their investigation, however, they do begin to see people in a new light, discovering that everyone may not be categorized into their initial, limited sheepish view of people. It's through these growing observations that the story really starts to take off, as the sheep themselves begin to view themselves differently as they learn to care for themselves without having a shepherd about.
The story does end on a rather serious note, going in a direction that I honestly did not expect at all. The book is for the most part a fun little story, humorous throughout (I mean, honestly, how can murder mystery solving sheep not be funny?), yet the story loops around and becomes a lesson learned on people and the solitude that they have in their life. Not that the story ends sadly, but it becomes more philosophical than funny at the end, really making the reader question the life of not only the sheep, but their beloved shepherd as well.
I would like to see Swann continue the story of the Glennkill sheep (and she obviously left the story open for more). I would greatly like to see their further adventures and watch them as they discover more mysteries to unravel.