By Horn Book Guide
Elizabeti, the little girl with the rock doll (Elizabeti’s Doll, rev. 11/98) and the demanding but affectionate little brother (Mama Elizabeti, rev. 7/00), is going to school for the first time. As in the previous books, Stuve-Bodeen tells a story at once universal and specific, set in a contemporary Tanzanian village… Details of the school day root the story in its place and bring Elizabeti’s world to life. Hale’s mixed-media illustrations are once again striking in their juxtaposition of softly speckled backgrounds with brightly patterned fabrics; here they match even more exactly the intimate quality of the text, with effective use of close-ups and warm family groupings. The book’s message that home is “the best place to be” but that school has its uses, too, will resonate with anxious new pupils everywhere. Some readers might question Elizabeti’s unfamiliarity with the schoolyard games and the numbers one through five (especially as her older, school-seasoned sister would presumably have brought home what she learned, just as Elizabeti does), but young children will be too busy grabbing Stuve-Bodeen’s reassuring lifeline to notice.