Louie, a remarkably optimistic 10-year-old, takes on the rearing of a fragile, newborn mini donkey whose mother is too sick to care for it.
Louie and his parents feel “the enormous absence of his brother,” Gus, who is serving in the military and who poignantly (and worryingly) now signs his letters, “Remember me.” Winslow, the little donkey, needs constant attention to survive, and Louie, in spite of everyone’s predictions of a dire outcome, gamely perseveres. The one with the most negative outlook is Nora, a new neighbor, who, it’s revealed, has lost both a premature baby brother and her dog. She’s attracted to Winslow but unwilling to allow herself to get attached, while Louie throws his whole heart into saving the needy animal. Her need for distance and unrelenting pessimism are both revealing and enlightening. Utilizing the spare, poetic language she’s the master of, Creech gently narrates this winning tale of love and the risks it brings. In brief chapters and with few words she crafts dynamic characters (who are default white) and an engaging narrative with a subtle yet illuminating message on the dampening effects of negativity. The nuanced conclusion brings hope without—realistically—full resolution.
Another outstanding and unforgettable story that will work well both as a read-aloud for younger listeners and as a rich offering for those recently transitioned to chapter books. (Fiction. 7-12)