It’s Monday! Why a Donkey? Why a Mule?
Why a donkey and why a mule are questions we hope readers ponder when they read these two stories published by Candlewick Press. In both stories, these underappreciated animals play a significant role. These animals aren’t just farm animals. They represent hope, determination and courage.
In Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud, a poor community uses mules to farm the land. After Martin Luther King Jr. visits the town, these animals help transport people to the voting booths so they can cast their ballots for the first time in their lives. Belle helps again during Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral.
“We got a phone call, asking if our mules could pull Dr. King’s coffin through the streets of Atlanta during the funeral parade. They wanted to use our mules, not fancy draft horses. Mules take their time, work hard, and they never back down. Mules aren’t pretty, but they are somebody!”
Here is Belle pulling his coffin through the streets of Atlanta.
This is a story we want readers to know so that they can understand the significance of these mules.
In The Silver Donkey, by Sonya Hartnett and Don Powers, the donkey figurine is a good luck charm for a blind soldier. He carries the donkey for comfort and it inspires him to tell stories of how donkeys have helped so many. The way Sonya Harnett and Don Powers structured the text, readers will think about the meaning of the donkey figurine and the meaning of the donkey in the soldier’s stories. This book pushes readers to move beyond plot to understand the deeper meanings. It is a book about hope, compassion and courage.
We look forward to sharing these books with readers to hear their insights about what the animals in these stories represent. These books will spark conversations about issues of race, class, power, determination and courage.
A big thank you to Candlewick Press for pairing these texts together. These books pushed us to ponder the significance of these strong animals in literature and in history.