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The Silver Donkey  - Sonya Hartnett

Paperback

Published: 1st October 2007
For Ages: 10 - 14 years old
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Published: 1st October 2007
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One bright spring morning in the woods of France, a soldier, blinded by the war, is found by a little girl named Coco, and her older sister Marcelle. In return for their kindness, the soldier tells the sisters marvellous tales, each story connected to the keepsake he carries in his pocket: a perfect, tiny silver donkey.

As the days pass and they struggle in secret to help the soldier reach home, Coco and Marcelle learn the truth behind the silver donkey, and what the precious object means: honesty, loyalty, and courage.

About the Author

Sonya Hartnett is the internationally acclaimed author of several novels, including Thursday's Child, winner of the 2002 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, and Forest, winner of the 2002 Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year: Older Readers. In 2003, her adult novel, Of a Boy, won The Age Book of the Year and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.

In 2000 and again in 2003, Sonya Hartnett has been named one of The Sydney Morning Herald Young Novelists of the Year. Her work has been published internationally with editions available in the UK, US, Canada, Germany, Italy, Norway and Denmark.

In 2004, The Silver Donkeywas published to great critical acclaim. It has won the 2005 Brisbane Courier Mail award for young readers and was CBC Book of the Year (Young readers) in 2005.

Surrender was published in 2005. It was shortlisted for The Age Book of the Year Award and the Aurealis Award - Fantasy Division in 2005.

In 2008 Sonya was the recipient of The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. The prize is awarded to authors, illustrators, narrators and/or promoters of reading whose work reflects the spirit of Astrid Lindgren. It is the first time this award has gone to an Australian.

In 2010 Sonya published her debut picture book, The Boy and the Toy, and her latest novel for younger readers, The Midnight Zoo.

Sonya lives in Melbourne with her dog, Shilo and cats, Marcus and Morgan.

THE SOLDIER IN THE TREES



One cool spring morning in the woods close to the sea, two girls found a man curled up in the shade and, immediately guessing he must be dead, ran away shrieking delightedly, clutching each other's hands. As they ran they shouted to one another all sorts of horrors and secrets: 'I think his ghost is chasing us!' screamed the elder; 'I'm sorry I broke your dolly's arm!' howled the smaller one.

The elder stopped, jerking her sister to a halt. 'I knew it was you who broke Villette's arm!' she cried. 'You liar, you pretended you didn't! I've told you not to touch my things!'

The little girl clamped her mouth shut and wished she hadn't said anything. Her eyes glided up the slope down which they'd both just run. 'The ghost might be coming!' she said hopefully.

Her sister, remembering the dead man, looked back the way they had come. The hill's brow was covered in thin birch and fat elms, and the grass sprinkled below the trees was long and brightly green. Now she'd caught her breath and recovered from the surprise, she realised it was thrilling to have discovered a dead man. No one at her school had ever found somebody dead; her brother, Pascal, certainly never had. He would be livid to hear of his sisters doing something so marvellous while he, the eldest child and only boy, had sat in front of the fireplace eating cinnamon toast. The older girl, whose name was Marcelle, imagined her brother's face when he heard the news. She brimmed suddenly with anticipation and glee.

. . . Although much depended, of course, on the man in the forest actually being dead. It would be embarrassing to fly home shouting that there was a dead man in the woods when the man was, in fact, only sleeping. And now she had caught her breath and begun to feel the cold, Marcelle reflected that the man had, indeed, looked equally asleep as dead.

There was nothing for it but to march back to the woods and have a closer look. The mystery must be solved. The facts must be set straight.

The smaller girl, whom everyone called Coco, squeaked when she realised where her sister was leading her. She dug her heels into the dirt. 'Don't make me!' she whimpered. 'I'm frightened!'

'You are not!' growled her sister, and Coco had to privately admit this was true. Nothing ever frightened her. 'Besides, we must!' Marcelle commanded stoutly. 'What if Pascal finds him, and pretends he found him first?'

Coco knew that this mustn't happen. Pascal always spoiled everything. She hastened up the hill after her sister. In a moment, they were racing. The wet grass grabbed their shins and slicked their boots. They slid and stumbled on slimy stones. Their breath came out in cloudy puffs. They had forgotten completely their mother's request to pick an apronful of mushrooms to feed the pig. They giggled and clambered as fast as they could.

But as they reached the forest's edge, the sisters slowed from a run to a walk; and when the forest's grim shadow draped over them and the air became grey and chilly with mist, they slowed from a walk to a creep. They lowered their feet carefully, trying not to make a sound. As they approached the hollow where the man lay, they were aggrieved to spy him sitting up. Clearly he was not dead. And although they had crept as quietly as they could, and kept themselves hidden behind tree trunks and weeds, the sharp-eared man must have heard – for he looked up from the fallen leaves, and stared directly at them.

ISBN: 9780143301578
ISBN-10: 0143301578
Audience: Children
For Ages: 10 - 14 years old
For Grades: 6
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 204
Published: 1st October 2007
Dimensions (cm): 19.9 x 13.3  x 1.5
Weight (kg): 19.9