Harley, illustrated by Molly Bang


Written by Star Livingstone
Illustrated by Molly Bang

First published in 2000

About the Story
Every word of Harley is true.

Star Livingstone and her husband lived in a teepee for three years, a teepee with a wood stove inside that one day caused the teepee to catch fire, though that was dealt with fairly quickly by sewing a new piece of canvas on to replace the burned one. When winter came, they would stuff leaves around the bottom of the teepee for insulation, but real insulation came only when it snowed, and the thick layer of snow kept the heat inside, the cold out. Days of cold but no snow were cold indeed.

They put up their teepee just next to a big field of sheep. The sheep existed because a vet had several sheep dogs she wanted to train, so she bought several sheep. The first sheep were the smartest: when they saw the dogs coming at them to nip their heels and herd them, the sheep fell over and played dead, and the dogs ran on by. The vet had to get some more sheep who were not so smart. Then other people in town who owned sheepdogs also wanted to use the sheep to train their dogs, so the sheep became very exercised, and very tired. Then the vet became interested in breeding different sheep and learning how different sheep produce different kinds and amounts of wool, so she got a few more sheep, and the sheep reproduced, until the flock was quite large. That was when the coyotes discovered the flock and began to eat the sheep. And that was when the vet decided she needed a guard llama: Harley.

The whole time this was happening, Star and her husband were living in their teepee, becoming friends with the vet and her family and watching what was going on in the field. Star is a naturalist. She watches very carefully and learns everything she can about the plants and animals wherever she lives. She noticed that even though the sheep might look like they were silent boulderlike blobs that did nothing but eat and run away from sheepdogs, they had social interactions with each other, and they had distinct personalities and peculiar behaviors. Star began to take notes on the sheep and on Harley, and the notes developed into stories, and then into the book.

Star still has many stories about the sheep that she has written down. Some are very funny, some are sad, and some are just downright odd. They are lying inside her notebooks until one day another editor decides to make another book about the field, the sheep, and Harley.

copyright 2018 by Molly Bang