The Silver Donkey

The Silver Donkey
Age Range
Release Date
February 14, 2014
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One morning in the woods of World War I France, two young sisters stumble upon an astonishing find — a soldier, temporarily blinded by war, who has walked away from battle longing to see his gravely ill younger brother. Soon the care of the soldier becomes the girls' preoccupation, but it's not just the secret they share that emboldens them to steal food and other comforting items for the man. They are fascinated by what he holds in his hand — a tiny silver donkey. As the girls and their brother devise a plan for the soldier's safe passage home, he repays them by telling four wondrous tales about the humble donkey — from the legend of Bethlehem to a myth of India, from a story of rescue in war to a tale of family close to the soldier's heart. Sonya Hartnett explores rich new territory in this inspiring tale of kindness, loyalty, and courage.

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1 review
World War I
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Marcelle and Coco find a blind soldier in the forest near their home in France. He has run off from the fighting and is clearly shell shocked. The girls take him food and supplies, glad that they have a secret from their annoying older brother, Pascal. Lieutenant Shepard just wants to get back across the channel to his home in England to be with his younger brother, who is dying and asking for him. Marcelle tries to come up with a plan to get Shepard home, but cannot, even though she and Coco are good about bringing him food, and listening to the stories he tells that revolve around a small silver goodluck charm of a donkey. Eventually, Pascal is brought in on the secret, and he enlists a lame man from the town, Fabrice, to help get Shepard a boat across the channel. The girls are glad that Shepard will get home, but sad that they no longer can care for him.

This would be a good war book for younger readers, since there are some good details about the fighting in France, but not too many gruesome details. I particularly liked how the children had been kept from knowing details of the war, so it felt like there was no war going on. Even so, when they found a man in distress, they felt a need to take care of him. I like the formatting of the new edition-- the pages of stories have a border on them, and the font is a good sized and nicely spaced on the page. Did love the previous green cloth binding with just the silver donkey on the cover, but children will prefer the picture on the new edition.
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