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Elizabeth WardThe setting is rural France during World War I, and the man in the woods is…an English soldier fleeing "the unspeakable trenches." He is also blind, a fact that fascinates the girls almost as much as the tiny silver donkey that "twinkled and glimmered" in his hand. They and their brother take care of him, and he, in return, tells them the tales of four donkeys, including the one that once carried a woman to Bethlehem. The small beasts become the book's quiet heroes, emblems of patience, trustworthiness and bravery. Self-centered Marcelle, Coco and Pascal don't remotely become saints—the emotionally fastidious Hartnett appears to be incapable of writing a sentimental sentence&151;but one closes the book sure that they have in some vague way been blessed by these revelations of the donkey's "peaceful grace." Certainly, that is an apt description of Hartnett's lapidary style.
—The Washington Post