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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Saving Winslow, by Sharon Creech. Harper. 2018. $21.00 ages 8 and up

"The first time Louie gave Winslow a shot, he almost fainted. He kept telling himself, I can do this, I can do this, but he didn't truly believe it. He was afraid of getting it wrong and hurting Winslow. He could hardly bear it that Winslow was sick, but it would be even worse if he hurt him more. His father held Winslow while Louie prepared the syringe. For a moment, Louie felt dizzy and queasy. He thought he might vomit as he injected the needle ... "

Louie's experience with raising animals has not been exemplary. At 10, he decides that his love of animals should win out; he is keen to take care of the tiny, feeble donkey his father brings home from his uncle's farm. His mother is concerned that Louie will become too attached to the donkey and take it hard when the donkey doesn't make it. Louie will not hear of it being a lot of work; he is determined to do everything needed to help it survive and thrive.

"Louie's mother bent her head to the donkey,
studying his sweet face. "Go on," she said.
"But I'm warning you both. He may not last
the night. And if he does, he may not last
another day or two. You're going to be so,
so sad." "No!" Louie said. "I will save Winslow."

Thus, the donkey is named, the battle to save him begins.

Already added to my 'keepers' shelf, this is a book that tugs at heartstrings and will have readers or listeners engaged from start to finish. Emotional and heartwarming, it is a tale of love and friendship that has many poignant moments, some humorous ones, and is always uplifting. Louie misses his brother Gus, who is serving in the military. He counts on his best friend Mack for support and cautious optimism. He deals with his eccentric friend Nora's pessimism concerning loss and Winslow's fate, accepts and appreciates her growing love for the tiny donkey, and shares small triumphs with her.

There is so much feeling shared in this story of love and perseverance. I admire the characters ... all of them. Mrs. Tooley gets on my nerves, as she will do for all readers and listeners; in the end, I have empathy for her as well. The ending is perfect.

If this is the first Sharon Creech book you have read to your kids, or your classroom, I hope it won't be your last. Hers is an amazing collection of memorable tales.

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