Welcome back to Storybook Saturday here at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
Today, we're diving into an Early Reader once again, that combines all the charms of a Storybook with a bit more length tale wise allowing it to reach a wider audience than possibly at first intended. I was going to wait until Fall to feature it but I simply couldn't hold it back. Ladies and gents, lads and lasses, today's book of choice is...
This is the story of little Alf, the donkey. He is a proud member of a little farm with a "mom" and "dad" that keep the joint hopping, but lately, he's feeling a little down. He can't understand why his caretakers don't want to spend as much quality time with him, or in the same ways they do with others members of the farm. I mean, the farmer plays fetch with the dog. The farmer's wife coddles the cat. The caged bird sings beautifully for the enjoyment of them both. What's left for poor little Alf? More time to stand around chewing his lunch all by his lonesome? Why isn't he viewed as useful and fun? So, he makes a decision that will change all of their lives...with an outcome that reminds us all of our unique importance.
I must say, when I picked up this little gem, I expected a good story, no more no less. What I got was MUCH more than anticipated and in the best possible ways. Little Alf is such a charmer and his attempts at getting the same attention as his farm friends is endearing. The sadness he feels over his perceived lot in life is heartbreaking but you're soon belly laughing at his antics (he runs away, but to the roof! A donkey, on a roof!) as you smile and grin your way to the heartwarming end. The pencil drawing illustrations add charm to each passage. They work WITH the story without overwhelming it. One of my favorite images depicted is also one of the saddest. It's a scene that places Alf at the duck pond, gazing in at his reflection, as he comes to realize that he is simply unlovable. Now, of course we all know that this is simply not the case, but the downtrodden little chap nearly broke my heart. I wanted to reach into the page and give him a great big hug! Luckily, after his misguided journey fraught with misunderstandings, he's back to his happy place with a family that loves him, understands him, and perhaps most felt of all, appreciates him.
Recommended read for both the young and young at heart. Who couldn't use a reminder that though we are all different, we all have our place in this world? It may be up to us to find it, and own it but that niche is ours for the taking. Simply reach for the place that feels right to your heart and your forever home won't be far behind.
Review copy came from my own personal library and was discovered on a trip to the second chance bookstore at my local library. The original release is listed as 1975 via Franklin Watts for the Weekly Reader Children's Book Club, so search carefully if you care to add it to your own collection.
Until next time...happy reading!