Author: Anthony DeStefano
Illustrator: Juliana Kolesova
Publisher: Sophia Institute Press
Age Range: 3 – 7
Joseph’s Donkey is another glorious production from Sophia Institute Press. This beautiful picture book tells the story of the Holy Family, focusing on Saint Joseph and his faithful donkey. Children will learn about the main events of Jesus life such as his birth, the flight to Egypt, being found in the temple and being raised by Mary and Joseph. All throughout the story, the faithful donkey is featured as friend and companion to a growing Jesus. They play, travel and work together, running through the fields or stopping to pray.
Juliana Kolesova’s illustrations are well known from Sophia Institute’s books about Mary, which are also written by Anthony DeStefano. Once again, her illustrations are beautifully lifelike and capture the Holy Family’s love and devotion to one another, and to their faithful little donkey.
The book will be particularly appealing to children as faces are prominently featured and sometimes gaze out from the page directly at the reader. Donkey’s mild, brown eyes are expressively drawn, and add emotion to many of the illustrations.
Jesus reaches adulthood as both donkey and Saint Joseph grow older. The ending of the story is sweetly sad, as Jesus carries the blind old donkey home for the last time. Mary and Joseph comfort donkey in his final moments, and Saint Joseph asks donkey to wait for him at the gates of heaven.
“I’ve been your master many years,
But now I set you free.
When you arrive at Heaven’s gate,
Please wait awhile for me.
I’m growing very old myself
And won’t be long, you’ll see.”
The final page is brilliantly produced. The colouring is brighter and crisper as donkey pauses before running through a heavenly field of green grass. He stops and looks back, gazing directly out at us, the readers. Is he waiting for Saint Joseph? Is he having one final look back at his Earthly family? Who knows? But it is certainly a great conversation to have with children as you read this wonderful book together.
Be warned, I still can’t read this book without tears streaming down my face. It is a clever book, teaching children about Saint Joseph’s qualities of hard work, loyalty, devotion and faithfulness. Saint Joseph and donkey live their lives in parallel and the story ends with a glimpse of their final heavenly reward.
Highly recommended Catholic story book that will tug at your heart strings.
You can purchase Joseph’s Donkey from Veritatis Publishing HERE.