On the Quigley's farm in Australia, along with the six Quigley children, live ""two utterly useless but thoroughly lovable soft-eyed, troublesome donkeys."" Father threatens to get rid of them but they delight the children. ""They're just our huge, useless pets,"" says one. Then a violent rainstorm floods the creek, making an island of the little hill where the farmhouse sits and another island of the hill where the donkeys are stranded. Father tries to rescue them by boat, but they won't get in it; then, much later, disturbed by their woebegone moaning, the two oldest children row over to comfort them and spend the night. Cowell's illustrations show a feeling for the plain farm family and their home, which suggests the 1930s. But the outdoor scenes, though appropriately muted in color, deal in watery effects--droplets, runny washes, marbley waves--which dramatize the storm at the expense of the story's quiet emotional center. Still, there are those empathic moments.