A Donkey Called Mistletoe (Jasmine Green Rescues) by Helen Peters, illustrated by Ellie Snowdon. Walker Books, 2021. 9781536222456
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Realistic animal fiction
What did you like about the book? When Jasmine Green learns that her elderly neighbor, Mr. Hobson, is preparing to sell his farm and move to an assisted living facility, she immediately starts pushing to adopt Mr. Hobson’s donkey, Mistletoe. The Green family farm is already home to quite a menagerie, and despite Jasmine’s earnest and valiant intention to become an animal rescuer when she grows up, her parents do not have any interest in adding a donkey to the mix. Jasmine and her best friend and co-conspirator Tom do everything they can to prove it is a worthwhile endeavor: they help Mr. Hobson with chores and spend time with him learning how to care for Mistletoe, they bring Mistletoe to the Green farm for a visit to show how well he gets along with their other animals, and Jasmine even agrees to forego Christmas presents in order to pay for the things she will need.
Her parents don’t budge, until one day when Jasmine’s little brother Manu has his new friend Harrison over. Harrison has autism, and is a little overwhelmed by Manu’s rowdy behavior, but is instantly drawn to Mistletoe. Jasmine shows him how to walk with the donkey, groom him and care for him, impressing Harrison’s parents and her own. Ultimately it is Mr. Hobson that insists that Mistletoe belongs with Jasmine, and she promises to make sure the old man can still visit with the donkey as much as possible. Manu and his friend Ben have been cast as both ends of a donkey in the upcoming Christmas pageant. They will be having a dress rehearsal for the residents of the home that Mr. Hobson has just moved into. When the pantomime donkey causes a not-unexpected disaster in the dining hall, the real donkey is ready to save the show, with help from his new friends Jasmine and Harrison.
This is a sweet, cozy Christmas addition to the Jasmine Green series. As with previous installments, Jasmine has to find creative, and sometimes underhanded, ways to convince her parents to keep her newest charge, and often finds herself in dangerous or uncomfortable situations. There is no danger here (other than Manu’s attempt to ride Mistletoe when Jasmine isn’t looking), and the emphasis on the therapeutic value of animals is a nice holiday treat. In addition to helping Harrison, Mistletoe brings comfort to some of the Greens’ pets who are mourning the recent loss of the farm dog, and provides entertainment and happiness for the elderly attendees of the pageant. Readers will hope to see some of these relationships continue in future books. Pencil drawings of human and animal characters add charm throughout.
Anything you did not like about the book? No
To whom would you recommend this book? Appropriate for readers in grades 2 and up, it will appeal to those who have read earlier Jasmine Green books or who enjoy animal series like Animal Ark and Puppy Place or books by Dick King-Smith or James Herriot.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Fiction
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.
Date of review: October 21, 2021