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Articles

Donkey-Donk Takes A Hike


2020/05/05


Author: Ellen F. Feld; photographed by John Cebula

Review by Nancy Brannon

Stuck in the house and home-schooling? How about taking a break to go on a hiking adventure with a miniature donkey? Ellen Feld’s new Donkey-Donk story, Take A Hike! is about “Donk” taking a hike to the top of Mount Washington. Located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, it’s the highest peak in the northeastern United States at 6,288 ft. That’s a long hike for a miniature donkey!

So Donk has to do a lot of preparation for such a long hike. She has to start an exercise program, doing some stretches, lifting some weights, and taking long walks on the treadmill. Then it’s time to sleep in her tent near the mountain before starting the hike. “I think I need a bigger tent,” she says, as we see a photo of Donk with her head only in the tent.

Then at sunrise, Donk is off on the hike, but first has to decide which of many trails to take. Some parts of the chosen trail are easy to hike and some are hard. But Donk finally makes it to the summit of Mount Washington. Whew!

She checks out the Weather Station, noting the sign that says the highest wind ever observed was here: 231 mph!
Some days the views are so sunny and clear you can see for miles. Other times it’s so foggy it’s hard to see anything.
Donk observes lots of animals along the trail on the mountain, like a Bald Eagle, a Monarch butterfly, an Indigo Bunting, and honey bees.

When Donk gets home, she has had a fantastic time hiking Mount Washington, and even got a souvenir T-Shirt!
This is a simple children’s book (for ages 3-6), but the photographs are so fantastic that it is sure to appeal to grown-ups, too. Horse folk will be impressed with what Donk can do. And with Earth Day inspiring folks to enjoy the great outdoors, this book will also inspire you to get out and enjoy nature. The advice is appropriate for the season – take a hike! And enjoy this lovely miniature donkey.

I wanted to learn more about Donk, so I corresponded with author Ellen Feld. She wrote:

“Donk is my first donkey and while she’s a love, she sees the world in a different way than my horses.

“Donk is smarter than any of my horses - she thinks things through and won’t attempt anything that she deems unnecessary.  

“The first time she sees something, she’ll be hesitant; but as soon as it touches her, you can see her brain click and she no longer cares about it.  An example is when I first tried to body clip her (takes her forever to shed out, so she always gets body clipped around mid-May).  The first time I tried, she wanted nothing to do with the clippers.  So I just went slowly and as soon as the clippers touched her body, she completely relaxed and ignored them.  After that first time, I don’t even have to put a halter on her. She simply doesn’t care.  I just walk up to her with the clippers and get to work.  Same thing happened with a tarp that we wanted her under for a picture in her first book.  She didn’t like it, but once her hoof touched it, she didn’t care.  In the picture/book, she’s actually under the tarp. That was her idea.  She sort of snuggled up into it and then just looked at us as if to say, “Okay, I’m ready, take my picture.”

“For the photo shoots, I’ve asked her to do some things that I’d never ask my horses or ponies to do (nothing dangerous, just things that horses might think too scary).  She’s walked right into a wading pool with a shower cap on and lathered up with suds with no hesitation (floor of pool had no-slip strips and sawdust to protect her. But she had to step up high - for her - to get into it).  She’s calmly posed under an umbrella on a windy day.  That sort of thing.  But if you move too fast, she’ll jump and run away. 

“Her body language is also a bit different than a horse’s.  When a horse backs up to you with ears back, you better watch out.  When Donk does it, it simply means she wants a butt scratch. Little things that are a joy to discover!  Oh, and she LOVES getting ready for the photo shoots as it means I spend a bit more time with her getting her ready, or teaching her tricks (smiling on cue, bowing).  And once the photo shoots are over, and things return to normal, she will get a bit cranky with me if I stop spending as much time with her.  She LOVES the attention!”

Donk is quite a character! Get to know her better in her books at: www.willowbendpublishing.com. Willow Bend Publishing is located in the “Land o’” Goshen, MA.

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