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A Donkey Reads

Muriel Mandell Illustrator: Andre Letria

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A lushly illustrated, fanciful adaptation of a Turkish folktale tells the story of a poor villager named Mustafo, who must give a gift of tribute to his tyrannical Mongol ruler. When he presents his old donkey, which is all he has, the Mongol is furious and threatens death. 


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10"x 8",  
32 pages,  
ages 4-8, 

Lexile® Measure: AD 780L

$16.95

  • Hardcover

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CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
Using ordinal numbers, vocabulary development, awareness of diversity, introduction to different cultures

A Donkey Reads

"Mustafo, a poor Anatolian villager, has to find something to give the new Mongol leader, who demands tribute. A broken-down donkey is all he has, and he knows he'll get beaten for such a pitiful offering. But Nasreddin Hoca, the village wise man, interrupts the leader's tirade: "I believe that I can teach him to read," Nasreddin says. Nasreddin delivers on his promise, too. His donkey-training secret (barley between the pages to get the donkey to turn the pages with his tongue) is revealed to readers, who will thoroughly enjoy watching the Mongol leader get his comeuppance. Portuguese artist Letria paints figures in a naïf, folk-art style nicely suited to this traditional story; their movements are puppetlike, yet their expressions are convincing, even moving. Full-bleed spreads alternate with entertaining spot illustrations of rows of villagers or miniatures of their offerings to the Mongol leaders: "a huge bag of grain, a fat rooster, a basket of apricots." Mandell's (the No-Sweat Science series) retelling is a fine introduction to the dozens of tales about Nasreddin, the legendary 13th-century wise man. "

A Donkey Reads

""A Donkey Reads" is colorful illustrated children's book adaptation of a Turkish folktale about Nasreddin Hoca, a wise 13th century teacher, judge and imam in Anatolia whose memory is greatly revered in many tales and stories. A Mongol tyrant has conquered a small village in Anatolia and demands tribute from each villager, even the poorest, Mustafo. Mustafo and his family are only able to spare a poor, old donkey for the tribute, and he fears his tribute will be scorned and he may be beaten or worse. Nasreddin plays a curious role when Mustafo attempts to present his donkey to the Mongol, who is very displeased and threatening. Nasreddin declares it is a special, clever donkey, and he can teach him to read. The rest of the tale unfolds, showing the particular cleverness and kind wisdom of Nasreddin, and the use of subtle humor to hopefully poke a little fun even at the cruel Mongol. Although the outcome of the tale is unclear, the intervention is spectacularly successful, and many children will cheer for the clever little donkey who is taught to read. Charming color illustrations bring the tale to vibrant life on the pages, helping to make "A Donkey Reads" an award-winning children's book and a Junior Library Guild selection."

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A Donkey Reads

A Donkey Reads

A lushly illustrated, fanciful adaptation of a Turkish folktale tells the story of a poor villager named Mustafo, who must give a gift of tribute to his tyrannical Mongol ruler. When he presents his old donkey, which is all he has, the Mongol is furious and threatens death.