Book Review: Where Is Simon, Sandy?

Where Is Simon, Sandy?: The Story Of A Little Donkey That Wouldn’t Quit, Written by Donna Marie Seim and Illustrated by Susan Spellman

This little book, written about a loyal and lovable little donkey on the Turks and Caicos Islands [1], an island chain off the coast of Florida, just south of the Bahamas, has all of its proceeds earmarked for the Children’s Programme at the Turks & Caicos National Museum. It is a charming and delightful book that reminds me of a personal story, so I will share the personal story first and then discuss this book in greater detail. The loyal and hard-working donkey of this story, Sandy, is a lot like the donkeys that I have had the chance to encounter in my own international travels, friendly, energetic, and very devoted to the people around them, even if they are somewhat shy tourists [2]. And it is this brave little donkey that is at the center of the story, although the real star of the show might be the entire island, with its laid back ways and the loyalty of people to each other in the community around Cockburn Town, where the action of the story takes place. A heartwarming story, well illustrated by someone with clearly high levels of knowledge of the area, this endearing book is based on a true story.

The short story itself begins with an old man named Simon, who lives in a small cottage with an assortment of animals, including his donkey Sandy, who has her own shed. His house happens to have a well, and it is Simon’s job is to provide water to the citizens of Cockburn Town. His patterns are so regular and his donkey so clever that she knows just how long to wait at each stop along the way, and is well-treated with water, hay, and her own beloved crunchy carrots. One day, though, Simon does not get up, and Sandy makes the trip on her own, rather forlorn. Her walking into town draws the attention of the town’s children, and eventually the doctor, and when the doctor comes to Simon’s cottage he finds Simon injured after tripping over his cat and unable to walk, and so his task is done by the children with Sandy’s help, leading to a sense of community between the people of the town. All in all, it is a story of loyal love and friendliness, and it is a positive picture of traditional life on the dry and obscure islands of the Turks and Caicos, whose land was first known for being used to mining salt from the seas. The book closes with a discussion of the islands and their people and animals and saline monoculture.

Before I returned the book, and before I finished reviewing it, I was invited to read this book to a group of children at church, to see how they liked the book. None of the children were particularly interested in or knowledgeable about the geography of the book. That said, they particularly enjoyed the poetic repetition of the book, when it came to the titular question of the book, or the singing of the children. In reading the book out loud, it was easy to get into a rhythm that not only interested the children I read to, but that drew other children to start listening to the story part of the way through. The children liked the illustrations as well, especially of the animals like Sandy the lovable donkey, or Blackie the cat, or the various chatty hens. So, at least from the small test group I read this book to, this is a book that is greatly appropriate in story time to children of three or four years and older, despite the presence of a few words that require explanation, even though they make sense in context. All in all, this is a book that succeeds wonderfully at its purpose of bringing the Turks & Caicos to life for children.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/01/17/book-review-the-sun-never-sets/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/a-donkey-tale/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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