This is the story of two little French girls, sisters Coco and Marcelle, who discover a British soldier hiding out in the woods behind their house. Blind, cold and hungry, the soldier tells the girls that he is trying to make his way to the Channel to go home to his sick younger brother. In reality, he has gone AWOL, and now full of shame and unable to see, he cannot go back to the war or get home without the girls' help.
Promising to keep the soldier a secret from their parents and older brother, Coco and Marcelle smuggle food and blankets to the soldier as he recovers and his sight slowly returns. On their visits to him, the soldier tells them stories, each one linked to the good luck charm in his pocket: a tiny silver donkey.
More than once this book had me in tears. The stories the soldier tells are extremely moving, and all come with some kind of moral, although the book does not preach by any means. There are charming illustrations throughout, and it is very reasonably priced for a hardback. A good choice for children aged 7-11.
I think this book is brilliant and very interesting because the silver donkey is magical . I really love the two girls who find the mysterious man hidden in the forest .it is also a very sad story. Imogen aged 11
It was a fantastic read. I read it to my eldest boy (6 Years old) and he loved it we had such great discussions about the story. I found it hard not to sob through some chapters though! I bought a copy for a friend I liked it so much. I think it would be a great book for older children too.
My son (age 10) says this is the best book he's ever read. He's a good reader but not an avid one - just the typical boys literature for his age group - but this grabbed him and he wanted to know if the author had written anything else - great to get a reluctant reader reading.
Used this book as my "Power of Reading" text in a year 6 class. Lots of lovely emotional and descriptive language. Plenty of similes to discuss. The story was lovely and the little tales throughout were a pleasure to read. I found some of the sentences a little brief and the repetition of "said" annoying. But definitely worth a read, and the illustrations are a delight.
After much reading I chose this book as a class text for Year 6. It's going really well and I'm very pleased with my choice. This story is beautifully written, rich in original use of language, and it is quite captivating. The imagery is extremely effective. The children are also enjoying the wonderful illustrations.
This is a wonderful little book, and having read it, I am surprised it is not more popular. It tells the story of two French sisters who discover a soldier in the woods. He has deserted from the front, is blind and suffering from shell shock. They are delighted by their discovery and feed and clothe the soldier, promising to help him get home to his brother across the channel. In return for their kindness the soldier tells them stories, based around the silver donkey charm he has kept as his good luck talisman. The story is simple and yet profound. The stories the soldier tells are thoughtful and clever, and the illustrations by Laura Carlin are a perfect foil for the stories.