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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Asinella is a donkey who lives with a family in Italy. Asinella is much loved by the little girl, Francesca, who takes care of him. In return, Asinella takes care of the family’s herd of sheep. Everyone in the family has a job to do, even the sheep, the chickens, and, of course, the donkey. Asinella’s most important job is to watch over the herd of sheep when they graze high in the mountains. One spring, the family climbs up to retrieve the sheep and there are eight new lambs. The terrain is too dangerous and the distance is too far for the young lambs to make the trek to the home pasture. But Francesca has a creative idea, one that requires Asinella’s assistance.
Joanne Russo Insull’s picture book story, Asinella The Nanny Donkey, is based on a true story. Told with care and compassion and lots of creativity, this story will appeal to both the young and the young at heart. The language is simple to encourage young readers to improve their reading skills. The plot follows the family’s routine of caring for their animals and the different creative ways they come up with to get the jobs done efficiently. The soft pastel-colored illustrations are soothing and engaging and help move the story along. The strong message about family love and bonding, caring for animals, and creativity seep through this story. The reader will instantly connect with young Francesca and fall in love with Asinella. This is a gentle, tender, sweet story.