cover image Don’t Spill the Milk!

Don’t Spill the Milk!

Stephen Davies, illus. by Christopher Corr. Andersen Press USA (Lerner, dist.), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4677-2028-1

The creators of The Goggle-Eyed Goats set this warm story in West Africa, where Davies is a missionary. The rhythmic text and gouache folk art capture the vibrancy of life on the banks of the Niger River, which a girl named Penda crosses on her way to deliver a bowl of milk to her father, a herder watching over sheep in the grasslands. Corr’s pictures burst with electric colors as the girl crosses golden sand dunes, past “a caravan of camels and a flock of desert jinns,” and sees a ritual mask dance whose participants look like “a million dancing beasties.” Penda concentrates on carrying the bowl of milk on her head, ignoring the distractions, while the colloquial narrative cheers her on: “Don’t shiver, don’t quiver,/ don’t fall in the river, girl./ Keep it on your head,/ girl, milk don’t float.” When a mango falls from a tree, splashing milk from the bowl, Penda’s father reassures her—and readers—that her mission was a success. “This bowl was full of love, girl, and it still is.” Ages 4–9. (Sept.)