Mia and Nattie: One Great Team!
by Marlene M. Bell
Ewephoric Publishing

"Nattie’s mouth was a little crooked. Her legs were a bit shorter than usual, and one horn was too straight like a unicorn’s. But Mia thought Nattie was perfect."

Mia finds Nattie, a newborn lamb, abandoned and hungry. Immediately sensing a connection, she cradles the orphaned animal, warms her in the laundry room, and bottle feeds her every few hours. Unfortunately, Grandma tells her, "Sheep belong outside." Mia knows Nattie needs to grow and gain strength first. Besides, the lamb makes her feel special with her exceptionally calming manner. When another sheep gives birth to triplets, the two larger lambs crowd out the smallest brother. Mia takes him to Nattie. With Mia's bottle feeding and Nattie's nurturing, calming demeanor, he grows beautifully and joins the other sheep. "Nattie is a terrific nanny," Mia declares. When Grandma's best ewe is sick, Mia convinces her to place it with Nattie, who will "work her magic." Indeed, the two graze together playfully. Grandma proudly winks at Mia, who snuggles with Nattie, deciding they make a great team in raising the farm's orphans together.

Bell's gorgeously illustrated picture book provides several life lessons for young children. First, all animals' inherent worth, large and small, despite any perceived "shortcomings," underlies the entire story. Secondly, Mia's initiative in rescuing and caring for Nattie, eventually letting her thrive independently, reminds readers that sometimes a child is wisest among us. Though Nattie, with her "goofy horn and crooked little mouth," will never produce offspring, still she plays a highly important job on the farm, providing companionship for other orphaned lambs. Worth noting is that Bell's book is based on true events. A special section (including a photograph of Nattie playing peek-a-boo from behind a tree) tells of the lamb who "defied nature with her strong will to live." For thirteen years, Nattie roamed the author's family farm, working her "magic."

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