When her family's fat, sleek new goat arrives in her poor Ugandan village, little Beatrice hugs her close and whispers, "Mama says you are our lucky gift...." And indeed it is true. Soon the goat bears two kids and provides enough milk to both feed the family and sell for profit. Until the goat arrived, life was very hard for Beatrice and her five brothers and sisters. The family could not afford to send the children to school, and it was difficult to make ends meet. Magically this one small animal, one of 12 given the village, opens up a new world of health and prosperity. Before the year is out, Beatrice happily realizes her dream of becoming a school girl and her delighted family moves into a sturdy new house.
Based on the true account of one family who received aid from Heifer Project International, a charitable organization that donates livestock to poor communities around the world, this moving story is eloquently and gracefully recounted. Vividly evoking the lush tropical landscape of central Africa, Lohstoeter's rich, deeply-hued illustrations perfectly complement the text and make Beatrice and her world affectingly real. Although she may live far removed from the comfortable middle-class lives of many young readers, it is clear that Beatrice is a girl of unusual heart and, like any child, filled with hopes and dreams. In her afterword Hillary Rodham Clinton writes, "Beatrice's Goat is a heartwarming reminder that families, wherever they live, can change their lives for the better." A portion of the publisher's proceeds goes to support the Heifer Project. (Ages 4 to 8) --Marianne Painter
From Publishers Weekly
An impoverished family begins to flourish after receiving a special gift--of the four-legged variety--in 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.) Little Rock, Ark.-based Heifer Project International, a nonprofit group working to end global hunger by providing livestock and training to people in need.
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