Last night I read a book called Mikis and the Donkey by Bibi Dumon Tak. The author is Dutch, but the setting for this story is the Greek island of Corfu. It’s a quiet story about Mikis, a boy who lives with his family in a close-knit community. Mikis is thrilled when his grandfather gets a new donkey, but not so happy to discover that his grandfather considers Tsaki (the donkey) a “tractor on wheels.” Mikis loves the donkey from the moment he meets (and names) her, and like Fern in Charlotte’s Web, he spends every moment he’s not in school with his new friend. It soon becomes apparent that Mikis’s grandfather is working Tsaki a little too hard, and it’s up to Mikis to teach his grandfather how to care for a donkey. Philip Hopman’s black and white pencil drawings are lovely – they truly capture the warmth of this gentle story.
The challenge the book faces is finding its way to the perfect reader. Although at first glance, it looks like a story early chapter book readers may enjoy, it’s actually a bit more mature. There is a baby donkey born during the story – and you need to know how baby donkeys are made to follow that part of the story. And the text is denser than what most young readers require. Mikis and the Donkey is a good story to read aloud to a child between the ages of 8 and 11 – maybe before bed when it’s sweetness would help a child and parent settle in for a night and spark dreams of sunny days in Corfu.
Our 1st-3rd grade students have been busy with book projects so I took a walk around to see what’s inspiring their creativity. In order of appearance, the pictures are from: Jungle Book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Mercy Watson and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…
And, finally, it wouldn’t be a February post without a snow picture. While I’m looking out the window waiting for the plow truck, our neighbors have been making something beautiful….