cover image Donkey and the Rock

Donkey and the Rock

Demi. Henry Holt & Company, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-5959-5

Demi (The Dragons Tale) deftly adapts a story that allegedly originated in India in 550 B.C. to a Tibetan setting for this retelling, notable for its spare, repetitive language and versatile artwork. A Tibetan king known for his fair judgment must settle an argument between two good and honest men, each the father of 10 children. One of the men owns a donkey that has accidentally knocked over a jar of precious oil belonging to the other. Sagely realizing that neither fellow is at fault, the ruler instead imprisons the donkey and the rock on which the oil was set. When word of this apparent folly spreads, people come from all over the kingdom to witness the trial. The king extracts payment from each of them for their silly curiosity and thus recompenses the man who lost his oil. The absurdity of this pageantry wont be lost on youngsters, who will happily follow the antics of the 20 energetic offspring who bound across these pages. The illustrations range from spare and airy, cool-toned mountain scenes to lavish, bustling pictures of palace interiors, punctuated with brilliant reds and golds; one breathtaking spread features a sumptuous floral pattern as backdrop. Demi delivers a worthwhile message with humor. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)