4 out of 4 stars
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Aesop's fable "The Tortoise and the Hare" has taught children for centuries that "slow and steady wins the race." It shows children that each step takes you closer to your goal, and concentrating on steady progress is often more fruitful than sprinting. While his approach isn't quite so literal, Siamak Taghaddos' children's book The Mountain and the Goat carries the same message.
This book is written in the first person, with an unnamed protagonist who isn't in any of the illustrations. Without being able to assign the protagonist a gender, this makes it easy for the reader to imagine themselves as the protagonist. While I think this is very clever, I am going to call the protagonist "they/them" while writing this review.
The book begins when they arrive at the mountain. A goat greets them and gives them water and bread, telling them to "do as [they] wish, but plan ahead!" From here, we see how they manage to turn that bread and water into something substantial, all thanks to careful planning and bartering.
Each page features a full-page illustration by Zachary Cain. They manage to be both simplistic and detailed, employing a lot of negative space. They are mostly monochromatic; however, the sun and subject of each page (such as the tailor and his shop) are in color. There's a sentence on each page, except for one page that has two. The language is simple and appropriate for children of all ages.
Taghaddos explains his intentions behind writing this story on the back cover. He says that he hopes to inspire "entrepreneurship and a take-action mentality" in children by making them understand the importance of the "everyday, small actions" toward their goals. I think that the object the protagonist gains at the end of the book will speak to children; it's something that many children would like to have. Therefore, I do think that children would be inspired to listen to how the protagonist managed to acquire it through hard work.
The only complaint I have is that a cow, which is vital to the protagonist's progress, appears out of nowhere. While there are other cows in the background, it is unclear whether he happens upon a wild dairy cow or if there's a herd of cattle that belongs to someone else. Merely inserting the word "wild" would solve this small issue.
That, however, is not a major enough issue to stop me from awarding this charming book 4 out of 4 star. The author delivers an inspirational book with a message any parent can get behind. The illustrations are delightful, and everything else about the book is aesthetically pleasing. The book appears to have been professionally edited; I found no errors.
I would recommend this to children who are five years old or younger, thanks to the simplicity of its language and the universality of its message. Additionally, it's a fun way to learn about bartering and the different occupations of the people involved in the trading process.
The Mountain and The Goat
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