In this picture-book adaptation of an old Swedish story, Mary befriends the donkey that becomes her transportation from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
Mary first meets the little donkey at the town water well, and she is kind to the animal even though he is considered lazy and dirty. By coincidence, Mary’s husband, Joseph, buys that very donkey for Mary as it is the only one he can afford. Mary grooms the donkey and has Joseph make a new harness for him, and the donkey is transformed into a useful beast of burden. He carries Mary to Bethlehem on their difficult journey to be counted, and they are helped along the way by angels that appear at critical moments to guide them. When Mary’s child is born, the donkey is there to watch over the family when they sleep. This long-for-the-format story depicts Mary as a kind, cheerful woman who takes everything in stride, charming the donkey, a flock of birds, and even robbers encountered on the journey. Soft-focus illustrations in muted colors provide interesting details of the journey, with particularly appealing animal characters. Mary and Joseph and the shepherds all have olive skin and black hair. There is no author’s note to explain the origins of the story, only a back-cover note that the story is a classic chapter book for children in Sweden.
A readable, pleasant story for patient listeners. (Picture book. 6-8)