Elizabeti's Dollby Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen, Christy Hale
A young Tanzanian girl finds a special doll, and realizes how much she loves the doll when she almost loses her.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyIn an impressive debut, Stuve-Bodeen warms the heart and hearth with this sweetly evoked tale inspired by her experiences in the Peace Corps. Set in a Tanzanian village, the story tells of Elizabeti, who watches her mother care for her new baby brother and longs for a little one of her own to cuddle. She has no doll, so instead she looks around for a suitable "baby" and soon finds a rock that's shaped just right. Carefully mimicking her mother, she bathes, feeds (her doll is "too polite to burp") and changes "Eva," and when doing chores ties Eva to her back "with a bright cloth called a kanga," just as her mother does. Downcast when Eva is misplaced (her sister accidentally uses the rock for the cooking fire), Elizabeti finds her special doll in time to sing her to sleep. Stuve-Bodeen's well-balanced prose strikes just the right tranquil, gently humorous tone. She lovingly delineates the mother-daughter relationship, and offers a rare, intimate view of another culture while sounding a universal chord. Hale (Juan Bobo and the Pig), meanwhile, deftly captures the story's mood in softly shaded mixed-media illustrations, juxtaposing brightly printed motifs in African fabrics against an earthy, sundrenched palette. The artist is equally adept at conveying close-up portraits with a full emotional range as she is a village scene of Elizabeti carrying a water jug atop her head. A little slice of perfection. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Tracy DefinaSet in modern day Tanzania, this African story beautifully demonstrates everyday similarities in children and parents around the globe. Elizabeti's mama has a new baby and as any little girl would, Elizabeti wants her own. Eva can be bathed, changed, clothed and fed just like mama's baby. Best of all she can be hugged and loved the same too. Stephanie Stuve Bodeen appropriately humors us as Elizabeti's baby Eva, actually a stone, is much cleaner than mama's baby and is too polite to burp. Christy Hale's illustrations bring Africa to us with brief glimpses into moments in daily life. Her soft colors and textures soothe, just as this story full of love does. Big brothers and sisters will enjoy seeing Elizabeti become just as good a mother as mama, even as Eva is lost, for of course Elizabeti finds her and rocks her to sleep.
Children's Literature - Susie WildeAn older sibling wants a baby of her own. She finds a rock just the right size and names it Eva. She imitates her mother's caregiving. Eva never dirties diapers and is too polite to burp. She is perfect until she disappears. The story has a perfect resolution. With its African setting, the book points to cultural differences and universal feelings.
School Library JournalK-Gr 2-Elizabeti doesn't have a doll and yet she wants to take care of a baby all her own, just like Mama takes care of the new baby. So she finds a rock, kisses it, and names it Eva. Like her friend Rahaili, readers may at first laugh at such an idea, but they will soon be won over. The text is original, clever, and consistent in its respectful treatment of Elizabeti's notion. As the rock is compared to the real infant, it actually takes on a personality so that when it's lost, having been mistakenly used for the fire pit, it's clear that no other rock can take its place. Once found, Eva is quickly cleaned off, hugged, and soothed with a lullaby. This story takes place in Tanzania, and lifestyle differences, such as how a baby is carried in a kanga cloth and the way that food is cooked in a separate hut, are an integral and unobtrusive part of the text. The mixed-media illustrations are intimate and remain focused on the girl and her family while also giving a sense of place. Bright cloths and patterned dresses add a touch of color to the splattered backgrounds painted in dry desert tones. This book is a splendid celebration of life and the power of a child's imagination.-Martha Topol, Traverse Area District Library, Traverse City, MI
Kirkus ReviewsCharmed by her new baby brother, Elizabeti decides that she wants a baby of her own; she picks up a smooth rock, names it Eva and washes, feeds, and changes her, and carries her about in her cloth kanga. Hale dresses Elizabeti and her family in modern, brightly patterned clothing that practically glows against the earth-toned, sketchily defined Tanzanian village in which this is set. Although Eva appears a bit too large for Elizabeti to handle as easily as she does, the illustrations reflect the story's simplicity; accompanied by an attentive hen, Elizabeti follows her indulgent mother about, mimicking each nurturing activity. The object of Elizabeti's affection may be peculiar, but the love itself is real. Later, she rescues Eva from the fire pit, tenderly cleans her, then cradles the stone until sheþElizabetiþfalls asleep. Stuve-Bodeen's debut is quirky but believable, lightly dusted with cultural detail, and features universal emotions in an unusual setting. (Picture book. 6-8)
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