A blog that discusses literature for young people.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

"The Silver Donkey" by Sonya Hartnett

Sisters Coco and Marcelle discover a blind soldier in the forest near their home in France. The soldier is shell-shocked, hungry and exhausted but is desperately attempting to make his way home to his family. The young girls are attracted to a small silver donkey the soldier is clutching as a good luck charm and listen intently as the soldier tells them four stories about donkeys. In return, they recruit their older brother and his friend to aid the soldier in his escape home to England.

The Silver Donkey is a magical children's tale that Hartnett has written with longevity in mind. It's not an action-packed adventure but is rather more reflective, examining themes of loyalty, honesty and courage. I particularly enjoyed the four tales that the soldier told the children, all of which focused on the admirable characteristics of donkeys. These included the story of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem and the story of Simpson and his donkey on the battlefields of Gallipoli.

In her review of The Silver Donkey, the ABC's Sue Gammon observes, "Marketed as a novel for children, this gentle fable can really be read by anyone from 8 to 80 years. In some ways, it may be more appreciated by adult readers, who will enjoy the sense of nostalgia this book evokes." To read Sue Gammon's review of The Silver Donkey, click here.

The Silver Donkey won the CBCA Children's Book of the Year Award in 2005 in the Younger Readers category.


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