Blackie and Blacktail

Rated 4.89 out of 5 based on 9 customer ratings
(9 customer reviews)

£8.99 £7.50

Blackie and Blacktail: A Story of Two Exmoor Lambs


By Ian Pugh (Author)

Number of pages: 144
ISBN: 978-0-9932595-2-4



Blackie and Blacktail is a story of two Exmoor lambs, one black, the other white with a black tail (who narrates). The two lambs experience a range of adventures as they wander the moor: befriend a stag, escape a flood, a snowdrift, a moorland fire and a rabid dog, are stolen by rustlers, and experience dipping and shearing. They get up to mischief and make mistakes, but survive through courage, friendship and endurance. This is as much a love story as a story of growing up and friendship. It is also an education in shepherding, told from the sheep’s perspective.

Number of pages: 144
ISBN: 978-0-9932595-2-4

9 reviews for Blackie and Blacktail

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Mark Jackson, Dublin.

    I was delighted to receive Blackie and Blacktail’s book of twenty-four charming and atmospheric short chapters by Ian Pugh written in his early life in Exmoor in the 1940s. Ian Pugh’s love for and knowledge of the Exmoor countryside shines out in his writing. The story is written in the first person narrative from the point of view of the character of Blacktail who experiences many adventures and close escapes with Mum and fellow sheep friend Blackie. The Exmoor countryside and characters, both human and animal, are vividly, and perhaps surprisingly, not always sympathetically, drawn. Holly Blackmore’s pencil illustrations add to the haunting and other-world atmosphere of the depictions of the Exmoor. The weather and landscape of Exmoor is internalised into the protagonist’s stories. As a reader, I cannot help but ponder how the novel’s adventures and experiences relate to the author’s within these evocative short chapters.

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Penny, Ireland.

    On the cover of Ian Pugh’s book, a black and white lamb, stand together in a field by the sea. All appears idyllic and peaceful, but as the pages turn, does an innocent narrative of country life evolve? Of course not! Pugh’s cautionary tale of good and evil is brought to life through the voices of the animals themselves. From the two lambs, to Blackie’s mother who attempts to instill awareness of evil in the world in the guise of the crafty fox, to the kindness and help of Monarch the stag and Trixie the pony. The reader learns of Ash Farm and the shepherds who tend their flock, and the experience of the brutal rustlers. Good and bad stand side by side just as it does for humans. Trials and tribulations must be overcome before a happy ending in Exmoor is reached. The work, with its black and white illustrations is an enjoyable read and unusual in breathing life into the members of the animal community.

  3. Rated 4 out of 5

    Judith Thursby, Norfolk

    Blackie and Blacktail is a charming story for the 8+ age group, written in the early part of the twentieth century by a young shepherd in his late teens. The adventures of the two Exmoor lambs, Blackie and Blacktail, and what they teach young people about life and our relationship with each other, is eternal. The author’s love of the Exmoor countryside and his knowledge of farm animals – particularly sheep – and the wild animals in the area, shines through his writing. For any child who enjoys reading by themselves, this book would make an excellent gift for birthday or Christmas.

  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    P Carroll, Argyll

    A splendid and vivid story of two lambs finding their way through early life as hefted sheep on Exmoor. Although written shortly after the end of the Second World War the story remains a faithful and charming reflection of the life and challenges facing shepherds and their flocks today. The book is written across twenty four short and self-contained chapters. They are ideal for early readers to tackle on their own and will spark interest in younger children being introduced to the joys of reading. Those who know the area south of Porlock Weir will recognise many of the locations featured in the book, adding interest to future visits in the area for younger members of the family.

  5. Rated 5 out of 5

    Pauline Parson, Maidstone

    This is a lovely story about two Exmoor lambs Blackie and Blacktail and their relationships with other animals and humans. As a city lass, I imagined sheep in a field rather than roaming about the countryside and being herded by their shepherds and sheep dogs at different times of the year. A real insight in how hard it is to keep track of these adventurous youngsters. At times very sad when Blackie is orphaned and later Blacktail loses his mum but all ends happily as it should for a children’s book. I much enjoyed reading it and feel children would enjoy reading it themselves or having it read to by a parent or teacher is educational as well as a good story.

  6. Rated 5 out of 5

    B Langley, London.

    A beautifully crafted story for children in which Ian Pugh brings out the essence of rural life in Exmoor in bygone times. He shows us through the eyes of Blacktail the joys and hardships of survival for those animals. They live in a largely benevolent terrain but they have to endure the severity of the seasons and danger from other animal predators such as the fox and are tested to the limits. This is a tale of endurance and courage against the backdrop of raw nature. It is also a tale of friendship and loyalty with the heroic stag Monarch imparting sense and wisdom to the younger animals. Not least is the relationship between the animals and humans, some benign and some threatening. Ian Pugh uses simple language to convey the spirit of the animals and paint a picture of life in the moors and valleys. Children will easily relate to the to the story.

  7. Rated 5 out of 5

    Peter Allan, Leeds.

    This is an excellent book for children, giving a vivid impression of rural life in Somerset as experienced by the two young lambs, Blackie and Blacktail. It goes well beyond simple farmyard life and brings out the pleasures and hazards of life in the wild. The characters of both animals and humans are crisply drawn as are the relationships between them. The black and white illustrations give added depth to the stories which are usefully divided into two dozen short chapters suitable for parents to read to children, as well as for children themselves to read and enjoy. All in all, very well executed and entertaining!

  8. Rated 5 out of 5

    Elenor Reeves – Wells

    This is an anthropomorphic tale of two sheep. It is difficult to identify a possible reader because the language is more mature than the storyline. The bond between mother and lamb is treated very sympathetically as is the friendship between Blackie and Blacktail.
    The various adventures that befall the two sheep are described well and have a sense of drama that would lend itself to being read aloud. I spent some years on a farm in South Yorkshire and I enjoyed the story despite being unfamiliar with Exmoor.

  9. Rated 5 out of 5

    Valmai Jacobs – Bexleyheath

    Who would have thought one day I would be so enthralled by a love story of two sheep? Absolutely enchanting.

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