The true story about the greatest shearer in the world ... whose incredible shearing record remains unbeaten after more than a century!

"Jack Howe had hands the size of tennis racquets, legs like tree trunks and wrists made of steel. Despite his size, he was light on his feet and did an excellent Irish Jig. But what Jack was really good at, was shearing sheep."

A rollicking Australian story, set in 1892, about the charismatic, Jack Howe - the greatest shearer in the world who set the world record for shearing sheep by hand. He also invented the "singlet"!


Neridah McMullin loves history and true stories. An author of eight books for children, Neridah is also an award winning short story writer and poet. Her latest picture book, published by Walker Books Australia in 2021, is called Drover, and is the true story of legendary drover, Edna Jessop. Neridah loves footy, family, birdwatching, walking her dog and meeting other people’s dogs.

Michael Tomkins grew up in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. He graduated from Sydney University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Design Computing. He went on to study Fine art at Julian Ashton art school where he began his passion and practice of plein air oil painting, capturing the beauty of Australian light. He now lives in the inner west of Sydney with his partner and cat. Michael’s art practice has spanned a variety of mediums including games, animation and illustration, working on projects with the ABC, Warner Bros, SMG games and several indie projects. Michael takes his learnings from these varied visual fields to bring his personal style into the world of children’s book illustration with his first book, Shearer. Michael also brings personal connection to the story of Jackie Howe, with a family history of sheep shearing. His mother grew up on a farm, with Michael’s grandpa, great uncles and great grandpa sheep shearers themselves, working and living near Dubbo in NSW.


The earthy sepia toned colours used in the inviting illustrations, set the background for the hot sweaty work in shearing sheds found all over outback Australia. This true story of Jack Howe, a shearer from Queensland, will intrigue young readers learning about an Australia of the past.


Jack Howe was a tower above men and legend among shearers in the late 1800s. Not only was his sheer physical prowess awe-inspiring but his I-can-do attitude enabled him to beat and set a new hand-shearing record that remains unbeaten. This is his story set in Jack’s day when the wool industry was experiencing a boon like no other before the advent of mechanical sheep shearing. Howe is portrayed with hero-like vigour and heart by McMullin and Tomkins in a story coloured in warm hues and words that chimes of the outback and a stirring part of our Australian heritage. Suitable for lower primary schoolers.

Dimity Powell

Neridah McMullin’s brisk and witty descriptions of Jack Howe are printed in bold black lettering on double-page full colour illustrations of the shearer wrangling his cloudy sheep from their woolly covers. The large illustrations give Michael Tomkins space to add amusing details to the scenes (is that a sheep’s ear about to be clipped off? What is that mouse doing with scrap of wool?) and to explore the characters of the shearing communities in the 1880s.

Reading Time

Factual information has been turned into a lively and engaging story that bounces along as quickly as Jack can shear a sheep and the illustrations, done in earthy colours, evoke time and place and brilliantly depict Jack’s giant frame, his charisma and larger than life personality. I won’t be sheepish about recommending this historical retelling, it is a wonderfully fun way to learn about a moment in Australian history. Grab yourself a copy, ewe would be mad to miss out!

A Word About Books

This title is ideal for the Australian history section in schools. There isn’t an age limit to the storyline, in my opinion, therefore even adults will thrill to read this excellent picture book.

Kids Book Review

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