By School Library Journal
Stuve-Bodeen builds on the poignant themes of ELIZABETI’S DOLL, while giving readers an expanded view of life in this African village. The child’s day is filled with sweeping, washing, and picking rocks from the rice. She must also look after her young brother, as Mama has a new baby who needs care. Securing Obedi to her back with a kanga, Elizabeti confidently starts out on her way to the village well. However, Obedi is a squirmer, he’s mischievous, plus he’s heavy. Finally, Elizabeti drops her water jug and slumps in despair. She sets the boy down and quickly fetches the water. When she returns, he’s gone, but her fears turn to joy as he takes his first toddling steps back to her and gives her a loud, wet kiss. Getting home is no longer problem; Elizabeti simply ties the kanga from her waist to his and lets him walk. While the child’s challenges as a caregiver are specific to her environment, the frustrations she feels are universal. Readers might see her life as a hardship, but no such emotion is expressed. The illustrations bring this world alive. Hale perfectly captures the spontaneity and totality of a toddler’s love, and the intimacy among family members is heartwarming and palpable. This is a loving, sensitive book to be shared and cherished.