BOOK REVIEW: Sheep of Fools

Sheep of Fools: A BLAB! Storybook

Another stunning work from artist Sue Coe, examining the sheep trade. Coe’s artwork reflects the world as it is: a brutal, gruesome, and ugly experience for the meek and the powerless. Here, there are no fantasy barnyards, no fields of buttercups for the lambs to play in.

For better or worse, the book is written in poetry; as can be expected, some of the rhymes overreach to tell the story. I found the footnotes rather distracting. The pictures themselves are all that’s needed to paint a haunting and evocative story, although it helps to know something about the subject matter beforehand.

That subject is the Australian phenomenon of live transport—in which live sheep are carried on huge ships to Middle Eastern meat markets. Viewing photographs of the transport practices online, I can see that Coe hit the issue spot-on. I found myself most affected by some of the smaller, easier-to-miss images in the book. A single black lamb standing amidst the confusion of an abattoir. The limp body of a sheep who had fallen from a great height while being unloaded from the multi-tiered ship. Of course, most of Coe’s images are in macro, showing great roiling masses of life—a two page spread showing the continents represented by bewildered -looking animals (some real, some imaginary) is brilliant.

(review originally appeared at

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