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Saving Winslow

Sharon Creech, illus. Sarah Horne
Guppy Books
Age 7-9

One day, Louie’s father brings home a sad little orphaned baby donkey. Louie names the donkey Winslow and is keen to care for it, despite his poor track record in caring for animals. Caring for Winslow distracts Louie from worrying about his beloved brother Gus, a soldier far away from home.

The story follows the ups and downs of looking after Winslow and the increasing involvement of his friend Nora. The donkey thrives and grows but there are moves to get rid of him as his presence is deemed a public health hazard. Fortunately, Winslow proves his worth as a guard donkey, alerting neighbours to danger.

This is an engaging, beautifully written story about the risks involved in allowing yourself to love and care for another living creature.  With echoes of Charlotte’s Web, this heartwarming tale from award winning novelist Sharon Creech would make a great book to read aloud at home or at school.

Listen to an introduction to the book 


Talk about the story

  • Talk about the different characters, how they feel about the donkey and how their feelings change

  • Share favourite scenes from the story, what sticks in your mind?

  • What would you tell someone else about the book?

  • Does it remind you of any other stories you know? Share your thoughts.

We managed to read Saving Winslow and all really enjoyed it, particularly Esme, and have some of the follow up activities to share with you.

We started by sharing the book together. I read it aloud. It has short chapters which makes it accessible for independent reading but is lovely to read aloud and enabled us to discuss things as we were reading. The story creates lots of images and we enjoyed talking about the feelings of the characters and why they may have different opinions about Winslow and what will happen to him. Esme enjoyed drawing the main characters from the book.

Both my 9 year old and 7 year old were quickly hooked on the story and we had the luxury of time during a period of isolation to keep reading! We discussed Louie’s feelings about his brother and thought about what Louie might want to tell Gus.

We also each chose our favourite scenes (there were many) and Dylan chose to illustrate his favourite scene.

After finishing the book we worked together to find out some facts about donkeys and created a little fact book.

We also made a cardboard Winslow and stable for him to sleep in. Esme added a sign ‘remember me, Louie’ on the wall which we found out in our fact finding was entirely possible as donkeys apparently have good memories. We’re looking forward to going to visit our favourite donkey again at our local city farm when we’re able to.

We would really recommend this book. Perfect for discussion about pets and responsibility, missing family, friendship and farm animals as well as lots of creative opportunities to follow on.

Things to make and do

Make a cosy bed
Make a cosy bed for Winslow use a cardboard box adding straw or shreds of cardboard for bedding and a soft toy to represent Winslow. You could add long ears made from card to transform a teddy into  a donkey.

Write a postcard
Write an imaginary postcard from Louie to his brother Gus about the donkey, and some of the things you have done together.

Write instructions
If Louie wrote instructions on how to look after a baby donkey what would he include? Have a go at writing your own list.

Draw a scene from the story
Choose a scene from the story which sticks in your mind and draw a picture of it.

See our print-off activity book with some of these ideas and other activities



Find out more

Find out more about Sharon Creech


Read another book by Sharon Creech, titles include Love That Dog and Hate That Cat

Find out more about donkeys
The Donkey Sanctuary website is very informative 
it includes information about donkeys, including working donkeys around the world, the centre’s work to rescue donkeys and webcams of donkeys in the sanctuary,

Read a story about another donkey – Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne.

Read Charlotte’s Web a classic story about saving an animal in danger