Authors: Ken and Angie Lake
Illustrators: Vishnu Madhav and Joyson Loitongbam
Publisher: Sweet Cherry Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-78226-027-5

Little toy, hear this rhyme,
Let it take you back in time,
Tales of sadness or of glory,
Little toy, reveal your story.”

Robin’s grandpa casts his magic spell on the toy in Ken and Angie Lake’s story, Donkey Hoo-Tee.

Targeted toward preschool to middle school aged children, this small paperback is part of “The Diaries of Robin’s Toys” ten-book series. With no scary or violent scenes, it is ideal to be read out loud to beginner readers due to some complicated words. Having different punctuation, capitalization, and spelling rules in the United Kingdom, the format may confuse American readers. Written on notebook-looking lined paper with easy-to-read font, the black and white illustrations by Madhav and Loitongbam are simplistic yet understandable.

In this clever short tale, Robin is waiting for Grandpa to pick him up to go the car boot sale (similar to a swap meet in America). He notices his new neighbor across the street and thinks of her twin, Marcella, who has a hearing problem, is shy, and produces beautiful artwork.

When Grandpa and Robin arrive at the sale, the young boy is allowed to pick out one toy. Robin selects a tatty-looking toy donkey and Grandpa casts a special spell on it, knowing it has an interesting story to tell.

The donkey named Hoo-Tee explains his name comes from Spain, which is a country in southern Europe. He lived in La Mancha, which was usually hot and dry, where he worked hard transporting olives to market for an angry man.

Having a difficult life, Hoo-Tee wished he was wealthy so he would not have to work so hard. Finding some money, he bought a lottery ticket, which he won but could not cash in as he was a donkey. Broken-hearted, he noticed a nice house with an old man working in the yard. Offering to help the man, he learned the man was lonely.

When the donkey’s owner found out he was helping someone else, the owner tried to beat him but the man stopped him and offered to buy Hoo-Tee. The donkey was more than happy to be owned by the man, giving him his lottery ticket.

Learning from the donkey about being kind to others, Robin shows Marcella’s drawings to his teacher and she blossoms being an artist.

By teaching how to be a friend, this book not only focuses on being kind to others, it has a clever play-on-words that adults will relish. Children will enjoy reading how a toy’s story reveals engaging educational information while teaching an important lesson.

Thanks to the publisher and Bookpleasures for furnishing this complimentary book in exchange for a review of the reader’s honest opinion.