Wee Donkey's Treasure Hunt by Erika Mc Gann and Gerry Daly, O'Brien Press
What's it about?
A little donkey feels sorry for her grandfather, who longs to go sight-seeing, but is too old to travel. Wee Donkey decides to go on an adventure all around Ireland so that she can bring back souvenirs to cheer up Grandad Donkey. Wee Donkey gathers up anything she thinks might be of interest to Grandad. Unfortunately, almost all the items are national treasures, which puts Wee Donkey on the wrong side of the law! What will happen when the gardaí (the Irish police) catch up with her?
What can we learn?
You should never take anything that doesn't belong to you, or damage a heritage site, regardless of how virtuous your reasons might be!
What makes this stand out? The reader embarks on an entertaining journey around Ireland, taking in all the sights with Wee Donkey as she visits lots of famous tourist attractions. We meet some creatures from Irish folklore along the way and see plenty of wildlife too (so many sheep!). The lively rhyming text bounces along beautifully, and the illustrations are fabulous.
About those illustrations...
They're so colourful, bright and bubbly, with lots of activity on each page. The donkeys are incredibly cute, and the lush green hills and meadows look extremely inviting. I love how fluffy and funny all the sheep look, and the gleeful faces of the donkeys and the giant at different parts of the excursion. I love the expressions and double-takes of all the people who spot Wee Donkey. The terrified shark speeding along a motorway with the Book of Kells tucked under his fin is priceless! It's brilliant to see so much diversity with a range of ethnic backgrounds and children in wheelchairs represented. I even spotted some babywearing in Glendalough!
Why we love it...
Wee Donkey's antics are hilarious and it's great fun to see what she is going to do next and wonder what the consequences might be. I love how the story is resolved! I won't spoil it, but Wee Donkey's kind intentions are rewarded in an unexpected way that benefits Grandad too. My kids enjoy spotting the places they recognise and speculating on where we might go in future. Stories featuring fairies or giants are always a winner in this house, and it’s lovely to see so many everyday animals that we’re fond of too.
Donkeys are one of my favourite animals and are regularly encountered in Ireland. One of the best things that ever happened on a childhood holiday was when a donkey stuck his head through our car window in West Cork. We fed the friendly donkey an apple which he ate with his head still poking through the open window. As he chewed, he sprayed apple and saliva all over my granny, who was sitting in the front seat, much to our amusement and poor granny's horror. Here is a brief history of the Irish donkey from the Irish Donkey Society, and some interesting donkey facts from Habitat for Horses.
Why you need it...
While travel is restricted, this provides an opportunity explore Ireland from your home. Wee Donkey's Treasure Hunt is a wonderful way of showing children some of the sights they're missing out on. Published in hardback, this would make an attractive gift. Wee Donkey goes in search of souvenirs and while doing so, creates a fantastic keepsake for any visitors to this country. This book is also ideal for sending to any Irish people and their families who are living abroad and can't make it home at the moment. As this story celebrates the special bond between a grandparent and a granddaughter, it's the perfect present for a grandchild too.
About the author:
Erika McGann is the Irish author of several best-selling and award-winning children’s books for a variety of age groups. Erika's picture books include The Night Time Cat and the Plump Grey Mouse, illustrated by Lauren O'Neill, and Where Are You Puffling? which was also illustrated by Gerry Daly. We have the Irish language version of this story, Cá Bhfuil Puifín Beag? and love it (read a review).
About the illustrator:
Gerry Daly is an author and illustrator living and working by the sea in Dublin. Where Are You Puffling? which is also written by Erika McGann, was his picture book debut (read our review of the Irish language version Cá Bhfuil Puifín Beag?). His first book as author as well as illustrator, Finn's First Song - A Whaley Big Adventure, has just been published by O'Brien Press. This is about a baby humpback whale and looks fabulous. Follow Gerry on Instragram for more updates about his work.