The Silver Donkey
Publisher: Walker Books
In French woodland, sisters Coco and Marcelle find and help a blind English deserter from the battlefront, trying to ensure he reaches home. In return for their kindness the soldier tells them marvellous tales, connected to the keepsake he carries in his pocket: a tiny, silver donkey. Over time, the sisters learn the truth behind the silver donkey and what it means to him.
Hartnett displays stylistic skill in the simplicity of her prose and the depth of experience it conveys. The soldier's recollection of battlefield horror is poignantly juxtaposed with the safe quiet of the woodland. The characterisation of the sisters, both courageous and loyal, one impulsive and the other more reflective, is deftly achieved. A future classic.