Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mikis and the Donkey by Bibi Dumon Tak

This is a quiet book that paints a picture of a young boy living in a Greek village who falls in love with his grandfather's newly purchased donkey. While the grandparents mean to use the donkey for working the farm, the boy treats it like a pet and takes great responsibility in its welfare. The grandfather laughs at Mikis sentimentality at first and treats him like a child. Later he gives him more and more responsibility in caring for the donkey because he cares so much for the animal. When the grandfather overworks the donkey the boy gets upset and brings it to the doctor for healing. He teaches the grandfather how to care for it and even convinces him to build a brand-new deluxe stable for it. When the boy dreams of owning a donkey farm, the grandfather is no longer laughing but helping him pursue his career.

Mikis age is never determined but he and his grandfather have differences that can occur between generations. At first the grandfather laughs at the boy who claims the donkey chose its name, but later grows to respect how he treats and cares for the donkey. He no longer looks at it as an animal that he can do whatever he wants to, but one that he needs to not abuse. Working animals that are used to perform human tasks can oftentimes be cruelly treated and the author actually wrote this book while staying on a donkey refuge on the Corfu Greek island. In the author's note he says that the name of the donkey is after the first one retired or rescued after becoming lame from overworked conditions.

There is not much character development and the illustrations are in black and white aiding the reader in visualizing the looks of a Greek village. The steep climbs, tiled roofs, and narrow streets with the Mediterranean Sea as the backdrop add to the flavor of Mikis life. A subplot hints at Mikis' teacher's romance with another man and Mikis romantic feelings for Elena, a girl in his class.  I finished this transitional reader in about 30 minutes. While it was sweet, I think it will absorb into the quicksand part of my books-I-can't-remember brain.

3 Smileys

No comments:

Post a Comment