Hemi: A Mule

Book: Hemi: A Mule
Author: Barbara Brenner
Illustrator: J. Winslow Higginbottom
Publisher: HarperCollins, republished in1991
ISBN-13: 978-0060206499 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0060206497 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0064400633 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0064400638 (Paperback)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Disclosure: Many publishers and/or authors provide copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion. Any books donated for review purposes are in turn donated to a library. No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.
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Brenner, Barbara. Hemi: A Mule (published in 1973 by Harper and Row Publishers Inc., 10 E. 53rd St., New York City, NY 10022). Hemionus, or Hemi for short, is a mule who lives on Mr. Parkhurst’s farm with his father Jackass, mother Mare, and friends such as Cow, Hen, and especially Melville, the farmer’s helper boy with whom Hemi forms an especially close bond. One day, Hemi’s father is sold and taken to “Parts Unknown.” Then one day Melville announces that he is leaving for the Agricultural College at Tucson, AZ. Finally, one day Hemi, replaced for plowing by a gravely tractor, is himself sold to the Army to become a mascot for their school’s football team.

There Hemi meets Jackson, the other mascot, and is well treated, but the loud noises at the football games hurt Hemi’s ears so he runs away and goes off in search of Melville. Along the way he is captured by a mean man who mistreats him. When Hemi reacts to the abuse by being stubborn, the mean man decides to sell him for money to the Meat Packer over in Lynchburg where he’ll be made into dog food. How can Hemi escape? If he does, what will happen to him? And will he ever find Melville?

Hemi: A Mule is a captivating story with a feel-good ending for young readers. It was a Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club presentation. There are a couple of common euphemisms (golly, durn), and when Hemi is rescued by a Native American girl out in Arizona and taken to live with her tribe during a drought, it is said that “The Indians came to see Dancing Eyes’ father and they sat and smoked and shook their heads sadly.” However, it is a pleasant tale, and its being written like the biography of a mule will please animal lovers.

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