The Silver Donkey

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The Silver Donkey
First edition
Author Sonya Hartnett
Country Australia
Language English
Genre Young adult novel
Publisher Viking (Australia)
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 191
ISBN 0-670-04240-4

The Silver Donkey is a young-adult fiction book written by Sonya Hartnett, set during World War I. The book traces the journey of an English soldier who deserts the war and comes across two young girls in the French countryside, Marcelle and Coco. The girls help the soldier, who suffers psychological blindness as an effect of post-traumatic stress, to plan a way to cross the English Channel back to his brother. The girls bring him food and, in turn, he tells them moralistic tales about courage, perseverance and trying your best at all odds. Though his stories are fiction, one is not; the story of his younger brother John who, while being extremely ill, finds a small silver donkey whilst digging in the garden. The soldier carries the silver donkey with him everywhere for luck, hope and inspiration, which along with hope and luck, spread to Coco when the soldier gives her the donkey. The soldier told the children stories about donkeys and how donkeys are brave and loyal to humans.

The story can be seen in two ways: from an adult's perspective, or from that of a child's innocence. The soldier's tales could very well be lies in order to get the girls to help him, but then there is the chance that he could be telling the truth.

The book won the 2005 Courier Mail award for young readers and the 2005 CBC Book of the Year award for young readers.

In 2006 it was adapted into a successful musical by Australian writing/directing team Matthew Frank (music) and Dean Bryant (book and lyrics). Produced by the Children's Performing Company of Australia and Echelon Productions, the musical played a limited season in Melbourne, Australia before embarking on an ambitious journey touring the United States, performing in San Francisco, New York City, Orlando, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas. The original cast members were all between the ages of 10 and 20. The Original Studio Cast Recording for the show was completed for publicity and licensing purposes in late 2006. Recorded cast members include James Bryers as Lieutenant, Andrew Kronert as Ernie, Josie Lane as Ruth, Lugi emile Lucente as Joseph, Chris Scalzo as Sky, Annie Johnstone as Marcelle and Georgie Darvidis as Coco.

In September 2008 the show will be going back to America with an all new (with the exception of two performers from the 2006 production) Australian cast traveling to Boston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco to perform the show.