Cover image for The donkey and the rock
The donkey and the rock
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt, 1999.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 26 cm
In this version of a tale with many Asian variations, a wise king, who rules a town full of foolish people in the mountains of Tibet, puts a donkey and a rock on trial to settle the dispute between two honest men.
Reading Level:
AD 750 Lexile.
Program Information:
Reading Counts RC K-2 3.9 2 Quiz: 20513 Guided reading level: N.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PZ8.1.D38 DO 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area
Clarence Library PZ8.1.D38 DO 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
Clearfield Library PZ8.1.D38 DO 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
Elma Library PZ8.1.D38 DO 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
Hamburg Library PZ8.1.D38 DO 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Orchard Park Library PZ8.1.D38 DO 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Anna M. Reinstein Library PZ8.1.D38 DO 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
Audubon Library PZ8.1.D38 DO 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales

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Two men are on their way to market when one man's donkey knocks over the other man's jar of precious oil. Confused and upset, neither man knows who to blame for the mishap. They decide to ask their wise and just king for help. He suggests holding a trial between the donkey and the rock, and invites all his subjects to the courthouse to witness the strange event. But instead of watching a trial, the audience itself gets a lesson from the king.From the striking mountain range to the brilliant colors of the prayer flags and the monks in red and gold, The Donkey and the Rock gives young readers a taste of the beautiful country of Tibet, and shares the wisdom of a tale that emerged from it.

Author Notes

Demi has written and illustrated many highly acclaimed children's books, including The Empty Pot , which has sold more than 100,000 copies. Demi, a practicing Buddhist, lives with her husband in Carnation, Washington.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4^-8. Placing his urn of oil on a rock, one hardworking man rests. Another approaches from the opposite direction, driving his heavily laden donkey. When the donkey accidentally shatters the jar of oil, the two men quarrel and finally agree to consult the king. The king listens, then arrests the donkey and the rock, announcing they'll be tried in court. Curious to witness the absurd trial, people rush to the courtyard, where the wise king charges each person 10 coins, enough to compensate for the spilled oil. As apropos today as it was in 550 B.C., this clever story is a lesson about idle curiosity. Demi's gouache, ink, and watercolor illustrations teem with activity. In her characteristic cartoon-style art, figures are easily identified, even in the congested courtyard on the day of the trial. She traces the probable Buddhist origin and evolution of the tale, then provides a spare retelling that retains both the humor and the serious moral of the story. Even libraries owning the similar Cheng Ban Qioa Tries a Rock (1986) will welcome this silly yet serious slice of Asian folklore. --Linda Perkins

Publisher's Weekly Review

Demi (The Dragons Tale) deftly adapts a story that allegedly originated in India in 550 B.C. to a Tibetan setting for this retelling, notable for its spare, repetitive language and versatile artwork. A Tibetan king known for his fair judgment must settle an argument between two good and honest men, each the father of 10 children. One of the men owns a donkey that has accidentally knocked over a jar of precious oil belonging to the other. Sagely realizing that neither fellow is at fault, the ruler instead imprisons the donkey and the rock on which the oil was set. When word of this apparent folly spreads, people come from all over the kingdom to witness the trial. The king extracts payment from each of them for their silly curiosity and thus recompenses the man who lost his oil. The absurdity of this pageantry wont be lost on youngsters, who will happily follow the antics of the 20 energetic offspring who bound across these pages. The illustrations range from spare and airy, cool-toned mountain scenes to lavish, bustling pictures of palace interiors, punctuated with brilliant reds and golds; one breathtaking spread features a sumptuous floral pattern as backdrop. Demi delivers a worthwhile message with humor. Ages 3-7. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-In old Tibet, two poor but honest men become embroiled in a dispute that only the wisest judge can settle. An oil seller leaves his oil jar on top of a rock while he rests. His neighbor's donkey, laden with wood, knocks it from its precarious perch. (Demi meets Jackson Pollock in the spread for this scene, as paint drops spatter across the orderly page.) Who is to blame for the oil seller's loss? The king, famous for his justice, questions the men and decides to arrest both the donkey and the rock. Curiosity seekers fill the court, seeking entertainment from the spectacle of an unlikely trial, but the king has the last laugh as he resolves the conflict to both men's satisfaction. A source note traces the lineage of the ubiquitous tale, told in many ways all over Asia. Whether she paints processions of priests, a mystical god-king, children in line dances, or the crowded courtroom filled with people and animals both mythological and real, Demi's firm control over composition and pattern offer children a fresh, authentic interpretation of Tibetan art that perfectly complements this simple fable. Exterior scenes set small, brightly dressed figures against watercolor swaths that suggest the bright sky, snow, and shadows of a mountain landscape. Interior scenes are depicted in rich, colorful patterns drawn from Tibetan art. Valuable as an entertaining, well-told story, as well as an introduction to Tibetan culture.-Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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