Don't Spill the Milk!


Over the uppy downy dunes, across the dark, wide river and up the steep, steep mountain, Penda lovingly carries a bowl of milk to her father in the grasslands. But will she manage to get it there without spilling a single drop?

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Over the uppy downy dunes, across the dark, wide river and up the steep, steep mountain, Penda lovingly carries a bowl of milk to her father in the grasslands. But will she manage to get it there without spilling a single drop?

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Sarah Harrison Smith
Corr's intensely colored gouache paintings are an appealing mixture of simple figures and detailed patterns.
Publishers Weekly
The creators of The Goggle-Eyed Goats set this warm story in West Africa, where Davies is a missionary. The rhythmic text and gouache folk art capture the vibrancy of life on the banks of the Niger River, which a girl named Penda crosses on her way to deliver a bowl of milk to her father, a herder watching over sheep in the grasslands. Corr’s pictures burst with electric colors as the girl crosses golden sand dunes, past “a caravan of camels and a flock of desert jinns,” and sees a ritual mask dance whose participants look like “a million dancing beasties.” Penda concentrates on carrying the bowl of milk on her head, ignoring the distractions, while the colloquial narrative cheers her on: “Don’t shiver, don’t quiver,/ don’t fall in the river, girl./ Keep it on your head,/ girl, milk don’t float.” When a mango falls from a tree, splashing milk from the bowl, Penda’s father reassures her—and readers—that her mission was a success. “This bowl was full of love, girl, and it still is.” Ages 4–9. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Kasey Giard
When Penda's mum announces it is time to take a bowl of milk to her daddy who is away tending sheep, Penda volunteers to carefully carry the milk all the way to the grasslands. Penda balances the bowl of milk on her head and marches through desert, across the Niger River, over the plains and up a tall and lonely mountain toward her father. Sing-song rhymes encourage her to hold steady and keep the milk from spilling. At long last she reaches her daddy and as she hands over the bowl of precious milk, a mango falls into the bowl, spilling it all. A teary-eyed Penda hands the now empty bowl to her daddy, feeling disappointed and sad. Instead of being angry, Penda's daddy tells her that she hasn't handed him an empty bowl: it's full of her love for him. Corr's brilliant illustrations dazzle the reader with brightly colored images of Penda and her African home and landscape. Davies entertains with the sing-song verses Penda sings to herself as she travels along the route to her daddy. Beyond being a lovely culturally rich story, this tale reinforces the lesson that an act of service for someone is an excellent way to show love to that person, even if the service goes awry. Recommended. Reviewer: Kasey Giard
Kirkus Reviews
Penda, a young Fulani girl from Niger, takes a long journey by herself to bring her shepherd father a nourishing bowl of milk. She travels through sand dunes, crosses a river, walks through the plains and treks up a mountain. She sees camels, desert jinns (are they imaginary?), masked dancers and the unusual pale giraffes of West Africa. She endures a smelly fishing boat. She admonishes herself not to spill a drop, telling herself, "Don't shiver, don't quiver, don't fall in the river, girl." That's why it's so sad when a final accident of fate upsets her plans for a successful end to her task, but her wise father has a different perspective. In an author's note, Davies explains that he has visited the region where the book is set from his home in Burkina Faso. He has worked with the artist in the past and wanted to give him an opportunity to picture the area's diverse geography. The intensity of the colors used in these gouache paintings will keep eyes riveted to the pages. The naïve, flattened style emphasizes the colorful clothing, and a double-page spread in which Penda walks through a mass dance is quite striking. A satisfying story, perfect for reading aloud, set in a part of Africa that is rarely shown in children's books. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781467720281
  • Publisher: Lerner Publisher Services
  • Publication date: 9/1/2013
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 516,010
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Lexile: AD600L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Davies is a missionary living amongst Fulani herders in West Africa. He speaks Fulfulde, eats millet, and accompanies cattle-drives. He has been involved in the set-up of a Fulfulde radio station which will broadcast news, griot music, and advice about cows, crops, and health. He also write for the Guardian Weekly (Letters from Burkina Faso) and occasionally for the Sunday Times. Have a look at his website: Christopher Corr was born in London and studied at The Royal College of Art. His round the world travels provide much inspiration for his work. His first trip to India in 1986 resulted in a one person show entitled "Wel-come To India" which was followed by a book and a short BBC TV film of the same name. He has recently been working on some children's books.

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