Beatrice's Goat by Page McBrier. Illustrated by Lori Lohstoeter. Simon and Schuster, 2001.
Beatrice, a young girl who lives in Kisinga, Uganda, dreams of attending school but her family is too poor to send her (public schools as we know them do not exist in Uganda).
Thankfully an international organization (Heifer Project International) helps Beatrice's family by giving them a pregnant goat. The money earned from selling the goat's milk and baby is enough to send Beatrice to school as well as raise the family out of poverty.
Releasing children, and families, from poverty is a topic dear to my heart. Two years ago we began sponsoring 3 children in Uganda through Compassion International. Our sponsorship and Compassion is a post for another day, but Robinson, Ejau, and Hellen are the reasons we picked up this book from the library.
Wanting to learn more about life in Uganda (though Compassion has TONS of information!), I searched my local library for books. Beatrice's Goat is one of a handful of children's picture books that came up in my search. I'm glad it did!
Beatrice's Goat provides an tasteful introduction to the topic of poverty in Africa. The descriptions of Beatrice's life (fetching water, working in the garden, washing clothes in the stream) give children accurate details to raise their awareness of how different her life is from theirs.
The illustrations capture the vibrant colors and lifestyle of African village life. Beatrice is seen carrying water in large metal or plastic containers. Her mother wears a young child strapped to her back while balancing a huge bunch of banana-like fruit on her head. And everyone wears traditional African clothing, except when at school.
More than just a picture book, Beatrice's Goat is a true story from the files of the Heifer Project. I know very little about the organization and do not mean this to be an endorsement of their work. But if you are interested in helping change a life in Africa I heartily recommend Compassion International!
I also heartily recommend Beatrice's Goat to anyone wanting to expose children to African cultures, poverty, or charitable giving!