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Beatrice's Goat



Last updated Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Author: Page McBrier
Illustrator: Lori Lohstoeter
Date of Publication: 2001
ISBN: 0689824602
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: May 2011

Synopsis: From Publisher's 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.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Who is the girl on the cover?
•  Where do you think Beatrice lives? In a city, farm, suburb, village?
•  Do you think Beatrice and the goat get along?
•  Are you friends with your pets?

Vocabulary
•  Coarse
•  Hoe
•  Cassava
•  Yearned
•  Cud

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How many siblings does Beatrice have?
•  What is the name of Beatrice’s goat?
•  What does Musiga mean?
•  What do Beatrice and her mother do to prepare for the goat’s arrival?
•  What uses do Beatrice and her family have for the goat’s milk?
•  What is the name of Beatrice’s friend whose family will be receiving the next goat?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw a picture of you and your pet (or a pet you wish to have). Using the template, trace, then cut out the figures. Have students “dress” themselves by coloring or cutting out pieces of clothing from construction paper. Try to make the clothes colorful and decorative like Beatrice’s flowered skirt on the cover.
•  See another example of a puppet on our blog.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!