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by Page McBrier & illustrated by Lori Lohstoeter

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-82460-2
Publisher: Atheneum

An organization that provides livestock to Third World families is the raison d’être of this earnest offering. McBrier tells the story of Beatrice, a little Ugandan girl whose family receives a goat from the Heifer Project International. The milk Mugisa (“luck”) gives keeps Beatrice’s whole family from malnutrition, and the profits they make from selling what’s left pay to send Beatrice to school and eventually raise the family to an undreamed-of level of prosperity. McBrier’s prose is uneven, the occasional felicitous phrase (“Then Beatrice kissed Mugisa on the soft part of her nose, close to where her chin hairs curled just so . . .”) clashing with the leaden ones (“Beatrice knew Mugisa’s milk would keep them all much healthier”). Lohstoeter’s vibrant acrylics are as uneven as the text, sometimes charming (Mugisa’s face is particularly expressive), sometimes awkward and static. Hillary Rodham Clinton states in an afterward that “the story of Beatrice is an invitation to all of us to support those efforts that provide resources, educate families, and lift community spirits.” The good intentions of this book ooze from every page, but in this case, they pave the road to a product whose message cripples what little story there is. Two percent of the proceeds will go to the Heifer Project—consider sending a contribution and saving your book budget for less freighted purchases. (Picture book. 4-8)