The Back Leg of a Goat, by Penny Reeve

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

It is good to read a book about young people who are pro-active in caring for others. The first chapter sets up the problem, which is that 10 year old Tania Abbey does not have enough money to do what she wants to do. Worse still, her best friend Sue, who usually helps her with money making schemes, has moved.

So how is she going to raise the necessary money and what does she want it for? She wants it to buy a goat for Shanti who is part of a poor family in India. With what she has in her money tin, Tania has only about enough for ‘the back leg of a goat.’

Together with her brother Daniel, friend Sam and an unlikely ally in Sam’s older sister, Emily, they toss around a few ideas. Ultimately it is Emily who comes up with an idea to raise the necessary funds. At first the boys are taken aback by her idea of a fashion parade, until Emily presents an innovative suggestion that captures all their imaginations.

Of course they encounter more than a few problems along the way. Not everyone is so impressed with the idea, they discover when Mr Campbell appears. But they are not deterred.

The characters in this story are believable in their interests and the way they proceed to handle the problem as well as the way the respond to biblical truths which are woven naturally into the books. The biblical parable of the pearl of great price fits neatly into the story and challenges Tania Abbey in her thinking.

This book tells a simple but good story with interesting characters. The characters of the children are reflected in their dialogue and in the creative costumes they come up with for the parade.

At the back the author tells a little her own experience and gives an appendix of organizations like Tear Australia as well as a sample chapter from Water or Goo. Published by Christian Focus publications they suggest a reading age of 7-11. I’d be more inclined to say 6-10.

The Back Leg of a Goat, by Penny Reeve illustrated by Fred Apps
Christian Focus Publications, 2008 ,
ISBN 978 1 84550 340 6