love, loss, and one little donkey

saving winslow

Saving Winslow, by Sharon Creech
published in 2018 by Joanna Cotler Books, Harper Collins
165 pages

Louie knelt beside the basket. A small gray head with black eyes and feathery eyelashes and sticking-up ears emerged. Attached to the head was a trembling thin body and four long spindly legs, all of it covered in splotchy gray fur scattered with brown freckles.

Meet Winslow, a miniature donkey born to a sickly mother, carted home by Louie’s well-meaning father, instantly engraved on the tender heart of Louie, age 10, who despite his dreadfully lackluster record for “nurturing small creatures” is determined to keep this pitiful fellow alive.


Louie’s parents overcome their reservations about keeping the donkey because they long to see Louie perk up. Life has felt a bit saggy and worrisome since his big brother Gus joined the army. Louie misses him dreadfully. Somehow he feels a connection between this new feeble donkey and his sturdy brother. If anything happened to Gus, he would want someone to care for him, just the way Louie watches over Winslow.

Sharon Creech writes deeply-insightful, lovely stories that probe our hearts and reveal the fragility and strength, scars and beauty tucked away there. This sensitive story of Louie and Winslow, their funny neighbor Mack, cranky neighbor Mrs. Tooley, and the newly-arrived, pesky, hurting, little Nora , brims with gentleness, loyalty, and love.

baby donkey

Creech honestly portrays the way loss can prompt us to seal our hearts from further pain, and shines a warmhearted light on the restorative power of kindness clothed in the skin of a young boy. I love the affection and tenderness displayed by not just Louie, but his father and 13-year-old Mack as well, attributes I’m glad to see in these male characters.
It’s a short, quieter book with short chapters that would make a sweet read-aloud, as well as a fine book for young-but-advanced readers. Ages 6 and up.

Come back on Monday for my Annual Orange Marmalade Juicy Book Awards to see what ticked all the right boxes for me in 2018!