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Give a Goat Hardcover – May 31, 2008
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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From School Library Journal
Grade 1–5—After their teacher reads them Page McBrier's Beatrice's Goat (S & S, 2001), a book about an impoverished Ugandan girl and how her life is improved by a special gift, a fifth-grade class is determined to collaborate on a fundraising project for the charitable organization that donated the animal. Schrock, daughter of the founder of Heifer International, uses an unnamed student as her narrator to describe the kids' efforts to raise money by selling healthy snacks. Readers will quickly identify with the classroom setting and dynamics and appreciate the author's direct approach in outlining the events. The original spark of inspiration, the planning process, the endeavor's success, the mathematics of running a business, and background information on Heifer International are seamlessly integrated into the text. Darragh's pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations match the upbeat tone of the narrative, support the facts being shared, and provide touches of humor. Though Schrock focuses on raising funds for a specific organization, the story ends with other classes reaching out to the local food pantry and the Red Cross. The message of community service is what children will ultimately remember and hopefully be inspired to emulate: "I think everyone learned that giving—and passing on the gift—feels really good." A first choice.—Maura Bresnahan, High Plain Elementary School, Andover, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Page McBrier’s Beatrice’s Goat (2001) introduced the work of Heifer International in a picture-book story about a girl whose family is changed by the gift of a goat. Illustrated in whimsical ink-and-watercolor artwork, this message-driven title by the daughter of the organization’s founder shows kids how to get involved in Heifer’s mission. After a teacher reads Beatrice’s Goat to her fifth-grade class, her students work together to buy a goat for a needy family through Heifer’s program. With an initial loan from their teacher, they prepare and sell healthy snacks, eventually earning more than enough to buy the animal, educating their school about Heifer’s work in the process. The story, which includes interesting details of project management, is a clear advertisement for both Heifer and the rewards of community service. Still, teachers seeking portrayals of kids cooperating to make a difference, both in their communities and beyond, will find this book a welcome resource. Grades 1-3. --Gillian Engberg
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What a great story! And it is based on actual events. There are so many important lessons in this book--helping others, learning to work together, being a good example, making a difference, and even a little bit about quality control, inventory, investment, and
profit margin--that are conveyed in a fun and easy-to-understand way, enhanced by the humorous illustrations of Aileen Darragh. Author Jan West Schrock's father, Dan West, founded Heifers for Relief (now Heifer International) in 1944 as a result of serving as a relief worker during the Spanish Civil War. Teachers and parents can visit the Tilbury House website for a special take home section to use with the book that features activities, discussion points, and further resources. This book gets a high five from me.
If enough kids read it, and are encouraged by their elders to value and respect it, the message in this book could change the world.
Actually, the book has a dual message: (1), Although it feels stupendous to give to those in need, (2), it's also vital to set things up so that your recipients can "pass on the gift," i.e., are able and likely to give a similar gift to someone else (who then gives to someone else, etc., etc.).
As the book's narrator puts it, recipients would be "able to help another family, and then another family, and then another family, in a long chain...."
This is the main message of Heifer International, the award-winning international development organization known and loved by many around the world. Give a Goat author Jan West Schrock is the daughter of the founder of Heifer International - Dan West.
Basically, Give a Goat is the true story of Mrs. Rowell's fifth-grade class in Maine. In order to raise money to buy and give a goat to a family in need, Mrs. Rowell's class decides to sell "healthy snacks" in the teachers lounge.
The book is easy to read but doesn't talk down to kids ("Mrs. Rowell taught us about quality control, inventory, investment, and profit margin..."). It also speaks the language kids speak today ("One gift leads to another and another and another.... Cool!").
The pictures are fun, funny, expressive and the work of an immensely talented artist, Aileen Darragh. Darragh has an unusual knack for drawing children and getting their essence down on paper, visually. Although her children don't look anything like his, they nevertheless remind me of Norman Rockwell's. Whatever it is that makes children differ from adults, both Darragh and Rockwell were and are able to capture and drop down onto paper.
For example, one of my favorite pictures shows the class at the beginning of the book, when they are "restless because of all the rain." This restlessness was what made Mrs. Rowell pull a book off her shelves, Beatrice's Goat, to read to the class and calm them down. And this was the beginning of things. This was the book that gave everyone the idea of working to send their own goat to Africa.
In this picture a young man is draped across his classroom desk like a rag. His feet stick up to the ceiling from his desk chair so that his shoe soles are parallel to the classroom ceiling. His face is hidden in his arm, which stretches straight as a ruler across the top of his desk, and his fingers clutch tightly at the far edge of the desk top. This gives him, I'm sure, the exquisite feeling of stretched muscles, which, being a fifth-grade boy who needs far more physical exercise than fifth-grade boys typically get in the modern American classroom, must feel like nirvana to him.
Another picture shows a fifth-grader writing in a ledger book, his face almost touching the paper, his mouth a thin line of concentration, his fingers curled tightly around the pencil -- the posture of one totally excited, thrilled, engaged and determined to get the $120.00 it will take to send a goat to an African family in need.
Another shows a toddler reaching with every fiber in his tiny body, toward the healthy snacks sitting on top of the school-basketball-game sales table. He teeters on tip toe, his little trousers twice as big as he is, his trunk bending sideways in one last-ditch effort to reach his coveted culinary goal.
And when you least expect it, there's suddenly a small goat in the bottom right-hand corner of the page, eating one of the classroom pencils.
Later, there's an amateur goat-pilot flying an ancient prop-plane to Africa, with one chicken bailing out in a parachute (Mrs. Rowell's class raises enough money for not only a goat, but some chickens and ducks as well).
In my humble opinion, this book does what we all need to do more of: train those who'll be leading our world in the not-too-distant future, to have the `right' attitude toward humanity as a whole.
Jeri Studebaker, author of Switching to Goddess: Humanity's Ticket to the Future