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The Silver Donkey


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About the Author

Sonya Hartnett is the author of the award-winning Thursday's Child (978-0-7445-5996-5), What the Birds See (978-0-7445-9093-7), Stripes of the Sidestep Wolf (978-0-7445-6594-2) and Surrender (978-1-84428-656-0). She lives in Australia.Laura Carlin studied for a degree in Illustration and in 2003 won the joint First Prize for Book Illustration in the Quentin Blake Illustration Awards. She lives in London.


Hartnett's (Surrender) latest offering, set in France during the Great War, is at once delicately told and deeply resonant. When two sisters, eight-year-old Coco and 10-year-old Marcelle, discover a blind and hungry soldier in the woods, they befriend him, bringing blankets and bits of food that can be pilfered from their meager pantry. The girls are delighted with their secret soldier, and Coco is particularly enchanted with his good luck charm, a silver donkey. They are reluctant to tell anyone about this unhappy man in the forest until they realize they alone cannot help him return to his home across the channel-his one desire after all he has seen in the war. They enlist the help of their older brother, Pascal, whom they believe is clever enough to hatch a plan. In turn, the soldier tells the children allegorical tales about honesty, loyalty, courage and kindness drawn from the Bible, folklore and his own life-all featuring a donkey. Though Pascal yearns to hear about the "riveting adventures from the war," the soldier's story of a donkey's sacrifice and goodness in battle conveys a wholly different message. The novel's nostalgic tone evokes the period but also delivers a timely message. This tender fable of peace will linger with both younger and older readers. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Some books seem to have always existed. The Silver Donkey is one of them. It's a timeless piece of storytelling, and reading it is like rediscovering a long-lost classic. * The Guardian *

Gr 4-6-A lieutenant walks away from a battle in France during World War I. Tired of the fighting and unable to see, he wants to return home to England. Two French sisters living near the English Channel find him and provide him with food and other supplies. The girls quickly realize that caring for the soldier is more than they can handle and involve their brother and his friend. As the days pass and the boys work on a plan to help the man across the channel, the soldier shows the children a small good-luck charm in the shape of a donkey. During the course of the book, he tells them four tales about the creature, the first one being a version of the Christmas Story. Gradually, readers learn that the soldier is not blind, but that he has closed his eyes to the violence around him. This is a charming book in many ways. In spite of its setting, it's a gentle story that introspective readers will find satisfying.-Jane G. Connor, South Carolina State Library, Columbia Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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