Asinella The Nanny Donkey

Children - Picture Book
24 Pages
Reviewed on 11/04/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Joanne Russo Insull is a former teacher who has worked with children and adults with disabilities. Her great-grandparents were farmers in Sorrento, Italy and she still has family there. During her last visit, she met an Italian donkey who looked just like Asinella. She lives in Rochester, NY with her husband, two rescue dogs and a flock of crows that visits every day.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

Asinella is a donkey who lives with a family in Italy. Asinella is much loved by the little girl, Francesca, who takes care of him. In return, Asinella takes care of the family’s herd of sheep. Everyone in the family has a job to do, even the sheep, the chickens, and, of course, the donkey. Asinella’s most important job is to watch over the herd of sheep when they graze high in the mountains. One spring, the family climbs up to retrieve the sheep and there are eight new lambs. The terrain is too dangerous and the distance is too far for the young lambs to make the trek to the home pasture. But Francesca has a creative idea, one that requires Asinella’s assistance.

Joanne Russo Insull’s picture book story, Asinella The Nanny Donkey, is based on a true story. Told with care and compassion and lots of creativity, this story will appeal to both the young and the young at heart. The language is simple to encourage young readers to improve their reading skills. The plot follows the family’s routine of caring for their animals and the different creative ways they come up with to get the jobs done efficiently. The soft pastel-colored illustrations are soothing and engaging and help move the story along. The strong message about family love and bonding, caring for animals, and creativity seep through this story. The reader will instantly connect with young Francesca and fall in love with Asinella. This is a gentle, tender, sweet story.

Deborah Lloyd

The delightful children’s book, Asinella: The Nanny Donkey, crafted by Joanne Russo Insull, illustrates how difficult problems can be solved. Francesca, Mamma and Papa live on a farm in Italy. Each family member, as well as the animals, had a special job to do. The animals included a flock of chickens, a herd of sheep, and a donkey. When a problem presented itself, a solution was always found. For example, Mamma sewed a special apron with many pockets for Francesca to keep the chickens' eggs safe from breaking. Asinella, the donkey, also had a special job – to keep the sheep safe on the rocky hillside. She kept them together and scared away wolves and any other animals that could harm them. One day, Francesca saw eight little baby lambs but they would not be able to climb down the rocky hills back to the farm. Francesca thought about the problem and found a creative solution.

There are many themes in this book for parents to discuss with young children. Some examples are parents could emphasize how each person and animal in a family has a special role; finding workable solutions to any problem is possible; detailed information about the farming lifestyle is interesting and will be new knowledge for many children. Additionally, the beautiful illustrations by Kelly Artieri add captivating elements that will fascinate every child. Author Joanne Russo Insull has penned a discussion-provoking children’s book in Asinella: The Nanny Donkey. This is a book that will be read over and over again!

Natalie Soine

Asinella the Nanny Donkey by Joanne Russo Insull tells the story of a donkey named Asinella, who takes care of the sheep on a farm in Italy where she lives with a little girl called Francesca and her parents. Asinella has to make sure that the sheep are safe while they graze on the hillside, scaring away any animals that may chase after the sheep. Francesca is surprised to find eight little new-born lambs but is worried that the lambs will not be able to walk home on the rocky road. Francesca comes up with a clever idea and uses her creative mind to solve the problem for the little lambs.

What a delightful story for children to read and learn from. There are many lessons for both parents and children in Asinella the Nanny Donkey by Joanne Russo Insull. Problem solving – when Francesca’s mother finds a way for eggs to be transported without breaking, Francesca learns that every problem, no matter how big or small, can be solved. Farming skills – Francesca learns everything about how a farm is operated. Structure – what needs to be done and when it should be done, every day, without fail. Taking on challenges without help – when Francesca makes the coat for Asinella. Good manners – when Francesca asks permission to use the sewing machine. Caring for animals and giving praise where it is due are valuable life lessons for adults and children. This story is well written and understandable for young children. The illustrations are beautifully created and could easily be used to teach children to draw and paint. A lovely book that I would recommend to all parents for their children.