Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Review: The Goat Lady

The Goat Lady
By: Jane Bregoli
Published by:  Tilbury House Publishers, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-88448-309-0
Price: $7.95
Ages 9-12
Rating:  5 stars
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Have you ever drunk goat’s milk?  Noelie Lemire Houle is an elderly lady who lives on a rundown farm on Lucy Little Rd. in Dartmouth, MA.  In spite of the fact that most of the homes in the neighborhood are new, freshly painted, and with neatly mowed lawns, Noelie’s yard has a big gray goose, several chickens, and a whole herd of goats.  When author Jane Bregoli with her son and daughter move to Dartmouth, the children become friends with Noelie and begin to assist with the goats, learning how to water, feed, and even milk them.  They hear all about Noelie’s history and the benefits of drinking goat’s milk.  She is known as “The Goat Lady.”  However, many of the neighbors don’t like what they consider an eyesore and a nuisance.  Can anything be done to help make peace?

The Goat Lady, which won the ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award for Humane Heroes, is a true story.  Noelie Lemire Houle was born in 1899 on a small farm in Quebec, Canada.  She and her sister moved to the United States in 1919 to work in a Massachusetts corset factory.  After she married Almador Houle, the couple moved to his parents’ farm in Dartmouth.  Following Almador’s death, Noelie remained on the farm with her goats.  For many years she has provided goat’s milk for people who need it and has sent extra goat kids to needy people in poor countries through Heifer International.  The Bregoli children asked their mother, who is also an artist, to paint a portrait of Noelie and her goats.  In fact, Jane did several pictures, and they grace the pages of the book.  It is a genuinely heartwarming account of intergenerational friendship, telling about the life of a lady who exemplified great kindness and courage.

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