Elizabeti's Doll

By School Library Journal

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.