Page McBrier is a freelance writer and the author of many books for children, including Confessions of a Reluctant Elf and a number of books in the Treehouse Times and the Oliver and Company series, among others. In addition to writing, she has led theater workshops and taught drama in elementary schools. Ms. McBrier currently serves on the board of an arts afterschool program for middle school children. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Rowayton, Connecticut.
K-Gr 3-Beatrice lives in Uganda, where her family is struggling to survive. During the day, she helps her mother watch the five younger children, tend the chickens and the fields, and grind cassava flour for the market. She is not excited when her mother explains that a charitable organization has given them a goat, which will be Beatrice's responsibility. She calls the "lucky gift" Mugisa, and, indeed, the animal turns out to be a wonderful boon for the family. Other villages seek her milk and are able to pay for it. The sale of the milk allows Beatrice's mother to purchase books and a uniform to send her daughter to school. Mugisa gives birth to two kids, one of which is sold to help pay for a new house. Although the writing style is stilted in places, the authenticity of the story comes through. Lohstoeter's wonderfully engaging acrylic illustrations go a long way toward enlivening the text. The afterword by Hillary Rodham Clinton explains that the story is based on the experiences of a real Ugandan child whose life changed because of the efforts of the humanitarian efforts of The Heifer Project International. Teachers and librarians may want to use this attractive picture book as a jumping-off point for discussion of world cultures.-Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
An impoverished family begins to flourish after receiving a special giftÄof the four-legged varietyÄin this uplifting picture book set in western Uganda. Beatrice longs to attend school with other village children, but instead she must tend her five younger siblings and help her mother in the fields. Everything starts to change, however, when Beatrice and her family receive a goat, "a lucky gift," says her mother, from a charitable organization. As the months pass, the animal provides the family with sweet milk to enjoy and sell and a pair of kids that will eventually be sold as well. With the goat's bounty, the family soon has enough money to send Beatrice to school. McBrier's tale, inspired by actual events, succeeds in demonstrating the positive ripple effect of the efforts of one organization, but an afterword by Hillary Rodham Clinton sounds like an advertisement for Heifer Project (the donors of the goat). Perhaps the volume's greatest strength is Lohstoeter's (How the Leopard Got His Spots) sunny acrylic paintings, which capture the hues of dusty thatched huts and verdant banana groves of the African landscape. Sweet-faced Beatrice and her mother take center stage, wearing colorful, traditional clothes, and their bond is palpable. Ages 4-8. (Feb.) FYI: Two percent of the publisher's proceeds will be donated to Little Rock, Ark.-based Heifer Project International, a nonprofit group working to end global hunger by providing livestock and training to people in need. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Hillary Rodham Clinton from the "afterword""Beatrice's Goat" is a heartwarming reminder that families, wherever they live, can change their lives for the better.