Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech brought back memories of teaching fourth grade poetry (a LONG time ago). Back then, I used Creech’s Love That Dog as one of our mentor texts, and Creech’s voice/style remains consistent in this newer publication.
This is a simple, yet meaningful little story. Louie’s dad brings home a baby miniature donkey that doesn’t seem long for this world. Louie gives all his love and caring to nurture the donkey, named Winslow. His optimism is contrasted by his neighbor Nora, who lingers on the edges, trying not to care too much for fear of getting attached to a sickly little animal that may die. (There’s more in the story about why she is so pessimistic.)
There are other pieces to the plot which lend to the overall story. One is Louie’s brother Gus’s absence. He is overseas in the military. His family dearly miss him and cherish their sporadic letters from him. Also, Louie’s neighbor can’t stand Winslow’s braying as it wakes her baby at all hours. She starts the complaints that will force them to get rid of Winslow.
An uplifting ending brings everything together, and shows that little Winslow has become a strong protector.
Note: Title is categorized Intermediate, but I think it would most appeal to grades 2-4.