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The Back Leg of a Goat

The Back Leg of a Goat

Penny Reeve
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Tania Abbey is a young peace-activist and environmental campaigner - she is also a follower of Jesus.

How does just a regular girl from a regular Australian town (with one or two crazy ideas) end up buying the back leg of a goat? But is it a crazy idea to do this?

What appears to be crazy is actually a cool plan to help poor people in the third world. A healthy, strong goat could make all the difference to Shanti's family. Shanti lives in India and her family have very little money - they don't even have enough to spend on education, clean drinking water or other things that Tania takes for granted.

So Tania plans to use her savings to buy the back leg of a goat (it's the only bit she can afford!) but the plan goes up a gear when she manages to get her brother, Daniel, involved in a fashion show! But it's her new friend, Emily, who has the craziest idea of all - 'Let's make it a recycled fashion show!' Before you can say 'dustbin', Tania and Emily - and the other kids in the area - are gathering a whole pile of junk to make costumes and clothes out of. This is going to be more than just crazy! It's going to be fun-crazy!!

Themes: making a difference; belonging to God

Why Tania Abbey?
When Jesus spoke to the rich young man about the kingdom of heaven the young man boasted about his goodness. But Jesus wanted more than just goodness from that young man, and he wants more than just goodness from our kids. He wants their whole hearts, their whole lives, he wants them to 'give all they have to the poor' on account of himself. This is what the Tania Abbey books are about. They tackle the questions of:
- What does faith, real life, practical faith look like when you are a kid?
- How does my faith in Jesus impact on the values and priorities in my life?
- Does 100% committed faith only belong to adults?
- What does the Lord require of me, when I'm still in primary school?
And specifically...
- How does my faith in Jesus change how I respond to a world in need?
Centred around themes of social justice, as the main character Tania's world view is expanded and challenged, these books give today's child readers the chance to encounter some of these questions and consider the answers and the impact of living completely as a child of a missional God.

Penny Reeve

About Penny Reeve

Penny Reeve and her family lived in Nepal as missionaries for five years. They now live in the Blue Mountains of Australia. See more about her on


  • Author: Penny Reeve
  • Release Date: July 2008
  • Pages: 96
  • Format: Trade paperback
  • Dimensions: 198 x 130
  • ISBN: 9781845503406
  • Imprint: CF4Kids
  • Category: Children's Books > Fiction > General Fiction
  • Series: A Tania Abbey Adventure
  • Read to me: 8-12
  • Read Myself: 8-12


These are two delightful Australian books (The Back Leg of a Goat and Water or Goo) following the efforts of 10 year old Tania Abbey as she seeks to make a difference in the world. Tania Abbey finds in her suburban life that she can bring about changes in lives of children in very different circumstances.
While Tania struggles to come to terms with the loss of a best friend who has moved she reluctantly allows a new friend into her life who has just returned from living in India. Through the stories from India, Tania learns about a girl called Shanti who lives very differently from kids in Australia.
In The Back Leg of a Goat Tania has been inspired by the "Gift Catalouge" and has been trying to save enough money to buy a goat but, as the title suggests, she only has enough money to buy it's back leg. So a great adventure begins as she and the other neighbourhood kids get together and set about the raise the rest of the money.
Water or Goo develops Tania's story further as she is encouraged by her teacher to participate in the annual Water for the World march. Tania's parents, afraid that she is just interested in participating to impress the teacher, challenge Tania to think about what the march is really about. Again Tania and her friends come up with some creative ideas to raise awareness about the importance of clean drinking water.

Through both these adventures Tania is reminded of things that Jesus said about serving him. In her author's note Penny Reeve says, "When I was nine or ten I remember being frustrated that although my parents could serve God, I couldn't because I was just a kid. But I learnt this isn't true." Penny skilfully raises issues of service in the world that is intrinsically part of a child's faith in a way that is accessible for children.
These two junior novels are suitable for girls and boys between 7-10 years old and would make a lovely present. They would also be a good addition to Church and Christian School libraries.

Miriam Bevis

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 sill, 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 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.

Dale Harcombe
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