Back in the early 1970s, before I could read to myself, my lovely mother would read me a bedtime story every night. Like most children, I got to choose which book mother would read from. There was one I kept going back to…Donkey-Donkey by Roger Duvoisin. It’s about a donkey that isn’t happy with his ridiculously long ears. He seeks out advice from all the other farm animals on how he should wear his ears…down like the dog, out to the side like the cow and the sheep, or to the front like the pig. He tries all the different ways and after a few mishaps, finally realizes that his ears are fine just the way they are…long and straight. It wasn’t because of it’s sweet lesson of, “being happy with who you are”, but for the horrific event on page 14 that I chose this book almost every night. I hated page 14 but couldn’t wait to see it because it made me feel so anxious and weird. This was the page that poor Donkey-donkey accidentally stabs his ear on a “wicked nail” that holds the scythe on the stable door.
The combination of the scythe, the blood, Donkey’s agonized expression, and that creepy spider on the barn wall freaked me out every single night. I knew it was coming and I couldn’t wait to be terrorized by the picture and my mother saying, “wicked nail.”
Last Valentine’s day, my very thoughtful wife bought me a brand new copy of Donkey-Donkey. As soon as I saw the cover all I could hear in my head was my mother’s voice, “Wicked nail…wicked nail…wicked nail…” Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get to page 14.