‘Jo-Jo was a donkey. His father had been a donkey before him, and his mother as well. Jo-Jo had to be a donkey whether he liked it or not.’
Here is a new picture book version of Michael Morpurgo’s Jo-Jo the Melon Donkey. Helen Stephens has illustrated, and however charming the story about the loveable Jo-Jo is, I feel a book set in Venice needs pictures.
We see poor Jo-Jo walking with his heavy load of melons, and how unkind his owner is. Then one day his owner finds out that he can charge more for his melons in St Mark’s Square, so that’s where they go. There Jo-Jo meets the Doge’s daughter, and he finally experiences kindness.
The path to happiness isn’t straightforward, but as in most stories you have a happy ending at last. And that’s because Jo-Jo is a brave hero, and the Doge’s daughter is a lovely girl.
(And I knew those statues could talk!)