Anna's Goat

Anna's Goat

by Janice Kulyk Keefer, Janet Wilson

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Keefer (Honey and Ashes, for adults) makes her children's book debut with this disappointing tale of a child's friendship with the goat that fortifies her, based on a true story of WWII. The book opens with the birth of baby Anna in an indeterminate "cold, dark country," to which her parents and older sister fled when the war drove them from their homeland, and covers her early childhood. When Mother can no longer nurse Anna, her factory co-workers give the woman a goat, which keeps "the children safe and warm and full as summer"; a towel that the goat often pulled off of the laundry line serves as Anna's remembrance of the animal when they leave it behind at war's end. Unfortunately, rather than emphasizing the universality of the family's experiences, a number of vague references may well disorient readers. For instance, Anna's father is "sent to live in another village," and the native city to which the family returns is described only in terms of its parks, palaces, trees and caf s that "had been bombed into rubble." Also, after the war, the father suddenly reappears in the text with no description of the family's reunion. Rendered on colored paper with Cont crayons, Wilson's (Me and Mr. Mah) intentionally grainy, golden-toned artwork is at its strongest with the portraits of the main characters; some of her other illustrations, perhaps due to the vagueness of the setting in the text, are sketchy and undefined. Ages 4-8. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
A nanny goat's milk saves the life of young Anna, born to a refugee family during wartime in a land far from home. Wilson's crayon illustrations on colored paper are warm, dramatic and rich in details, but Keefer's story with its many gaps, fails to satisfy. There are too many abrupt transitions, beginning with the jump from Anna's birth and the father's departure to the mother's going to work in a factory. The story's point of view also shifts¾the opening is through older sister Wanda's eyes, while the rest of the story is told by Anna. The father effectively disappears from the story after the opening scene, although his name appears a few more times. The "treasure" of the chewed blue towel at the end is a weak link to the memory of the goat. Nevertheless, there are some wonderful moments and images, and the book presents the refugee experience in a picture book form suitable for young children. 2000, Orca, . Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Linnea Hendrickson
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-"Far, far away, across the plains and over the mountains in a cold, dark country, Anna was born." In fact, the infant's parents and sister have fled their home during a nameless war and are trying to survive under difficult conditions. The father has been "sent to live in another village" and the mother, no longer able to produce milk to feed the baby, eventually finds work in a factory. The women in the village come to her aid and lend her a goat for milk and to keep her two girls company during the day. The story follows the eventually reunited family as they return to their homeland (without the goat), where instead of parks and caf s, they find debris and destruction. Here, the children play in the rubble, sometimes finding "treasures." When Anna, now a young child, despairs that she can't find a treasure, her mother gives her a towel that her beloved goat had chewed on. This sparks Anna's memories of her love for the animal, which helps her through the coming days. This evocative story illustrates the difficulties of war and the necessity of hope. The full- and double-page illustrations on colored paper with crayon in subdued tones reflect both the horror of war and the strength of the human spirit.-Sheilah Kosco, Rapides Parish Library, Alexandria, LA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Orca Book Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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