Review of Saving Winslow

Saving Winslow
by Sharon Creech
Intermediate    Cotler/HarperCollins    165 pp.
9/18    978-0-06-257070-3    $16.99
Library ed.  978-0-06-257072-7    $17.89
e-book ed.  978-0-06-257073-4    $9.99

Creech interweaves the stories of three fragile babies. Two strands are backstories, and one is front, center, present, and loud. Louie had been a premature baby. Now he’s eleven, but the family story of his infancy as “a pitiful, scrawny, struggling thing” has informed his outlook on life. He’s determined and optimistic. Newcomer-to-town Nora lost a baby brother (who, like Louie, had been born prematurely). This experience has left her angry, anxious, and prickly. The two children bond over Winslow, an orphaned baby donkey, a frail animal not expected to survive, whom Louie adopts. The main strand of the story involves the ups-and-downs of Winslow’s health and then the challenges of keeping a braying donkey in a residential neighborhood. In fine animal-hero style, the plot comes to a peak with Winslow saving the life of yet another baby — the baby next door. Woven into this narrative is a convincing portrayal of human growth and blossoming as Louie gains confidence and Nora finally allows herself to trust her present happiness. (Nora is a particularly original character about whom Creech tells us little and shows us much.) Set in an unspecified small-town past, largely free of adults and rich with unscheduled play time, the story is told simply but subtly, celebrating the unexpected strength of the vulnerable.

From the November/December 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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