Saving Winslow

Informational Resources:

Author Information:

Sharon Creech biography:

Sharon Creech information:

Activities & Resources:


Sharon Creech discussion guide:

Click to access RG-9780062570703.pdf


Facts about chickens:

Facts about donkeys:

Facts about lambs:


Website about artist Winslow Homer biography:

Winslow Homer’s paintings:


ABCTeach —  On the Farm Video (3:56):

Farm Facts:

Have students put together a list of questions they would like to ask a farmer. If possible, Skype with a farmer to enable students to ask the questions.


Have students write a letter to Gus from Louie’s point of view. The letter should tell Gus about the important events from the story.

Letter writing for kids video (2:18):

MakerSpace Activities:

Have students write a letter to a soldier overseas. See website for addresses:

Have students collect donated items to send to soldiers overseas. Students can work in groups to make care packages for soldiers to add to their notes of thanks.

Have students use supplies from your makerspace station to create their version of Winslow’s painting hanging in Louie’s room.

Use items from the makerspace station to recreate a significant scene from the book. Students might choose to draw, paint, use scrap material, or a create device to present the scene.

Discussion Questions:

Some people think the first sentence of a novel is the most important. Explain why you would agree or disagree with that statement, based on the first line of this novel.

Why do you think Louie has such an interest in saving Winslow?

What would you do to keep your pet safe and happy?

Do you think that animals can have a healing effect on people? What examples can you think of that support your opinion?

Louie has to give Winslow shots each day. How would you feel about having to give a pet shots each day?

What do you do when you are missing a family member?

How do the characters of Mack and Gus mirror one another? How are they similar in their relationships with Louie?

Nora acts as though she does not care about Winslow even though she consistently checks on him. Why do you think she pretends not to care when her actions show that she does?

Why do you think the author includes the relationship between Mack and Claudine in the story?

During the story, the author describes a painting that hangs in Louie’s bedroom. A matching one hung in the hospital when Louie was a baby. Why do you think the author includes this description in the story?

What kind of relationship does Louie have with his brother, Gus? How does this impact Gus’ absence?

If you could choose any animal in the world as a pet, what would you prefer? Why?

What advice would you give Louie about how to care for Winslow?

How does caring for Winslow help Louie?

Why do you think Nora did not tell Louie that she was taking Winslow for a walk?

How does Winslow change Mrs. Cooley’s feelings about animals who make noise?

Do you think the story was plot based or character driven? Explain.

With which character did you least identify? Why?

What specific themes did the author emphasize throughout the story? What do you think she is trying to get across to the reader?

If you could hear this same story from another character’s viewpoint, who would you choose? Why?

Book Talk Teasers:

Show the book trailer for Saving Winslow (1:20):

Read the readers theater created for this book.

Read Alikes:

Absent family members

Applegate, Katherine. Home of the brave. Kek, an African refugee, is confronted by many strange things at the Minneapolis home of his aunt and cousin, as well as in his fifth grade classroom, and longs for his missing mother, but finds comfort in the company of a cow and her owner. (NoveList K-8)

Crowder, Melanie. Three pennies. Referring to the I-Ching and a trio of good-luck pennies whenever she is bounced to a new foster home, Marin finds herself in a place that feels like a forever home while trying to find her birth mother. (NoveList K-8)

Taking care of animals

Woods, Brenda. Saint Louis Armstrong Beach. As Hurricane Katrina bears down on New Orleans, Saint is stuck in the city after escaping evacuation so he can look for his dog, Shadow, and he, Shadow, and an elderly neighbor, Miz Moran, take shelter in her attic. (NoveList K-8)

MacLachlan, Patricia. White fur flying. A sad and silent nine-year-old boy finds his voice when he moves next to a family that rescues dogs. (NoveList K-8)


Cheng, Andrea. Where do you stay? Now that Jerome’s mother has died from cancer, he is staying with his aunt Geneva. But Jerome misses his own home and piano. When he meets Mr. Willie who lives in the carriage house of a mansion down the street, the two talk of music. Jerome dreams of someday moving into the mansion with Mr. Willie and fixing it up. But the building is for sale. What will happen if someone buys the mansion and tears the carriage house down? How will Jerome cope when things get to be too much? (NoveList K-8)

Giff, Patricia Reilly. Winter sky. Almost twelve-year-old Siria, who chases fire trucks in the middle of the night to ensure her firefighter dad’s safety, learns about bravery one winter as she tries to mend a broken friendship. (NoveList K-8)

Kinney, Jeff. The meltdown. When snow shuts down Greg Heffley’s middle school, his neighborhood transforms into a wintry battlefield. Rival groups fight over territory, build massive snow forts, and stage epic snowball fights. And in the crosshairs are Greg and his trusty best friend, Rowley Jefferson. It’s a fight for survival as Greg and Rowley navigate alliances, betrayals, and warring gangs in a neighborhood meltdown. When the snow clears, will Greg and Rowley emerge as heroes? Or will they even survive to see another day? (NoveList K-8)

Family Relationships

Grimes, Nikki. Garvey’s choice. Preferring science and reading to the sports his father wants him to play, Garvey comforts himself with food and endures bullying before joining the school chorus, where he learns how to accept himself and bond with his father. (NoveList K-8)

Smith, Heather. Ebb and flow. After a bad year on the mainland, eleven-year-old Jett returns to Newfoundland to spend the summer with his sprightly Grandma Jo. He weathers the ebb and flow of his sometimes tumultuous life and learns to come to terms with his past decisions. (NoveList K-8)

Urban, Linda. A crooked kind of perfect. Ten-year-old Zoe Elias, who longs to play the piano but must resign herself to learning the organ, instead, finds that her musicianship has a positive impact on her workaholic mother, her jittery father, and her school social life. (NoveList K-8)


Creech, Sharon. Saving Winslow. HarperCollins Publishers, 2018.

Horn Book

Saving Winslow

by Sharon Creech

Intermediate Cotler/HarperCollins 165 pp.

9/18 978-0-06-257070-3 $16.99

Library ed. 978-0-06-257072-7 $17.89

e-book ed. 978-0-06-257073-4 $9.99

Creech interweaves the stories of three fragile babies. Two strands are backstories, and one is front, center, present, and loud. Louie had been a premature baby. Now he’s eleven, but the family story of his infancy as “a pitiful, scrawny, struggling thing” has informed his outlook on life. He’s determined and optimistic. Newcomer-to-town Nora lost a baby brother (who, like Louie, had been born prematurely). This experience has left her angry, anxious, and prickly. The two children bond over Winslow, an orphaned baby donkey, a frail animal not expected to survive, whom Louie adopts. The main strand of the story involves the ups-and-downs of Winslow’s health and then the challenges of keeping a braying donkey in a residential neighborhood. In fine animal-hero style, the plot comes to a peak with Winslow saving the life of yet another baby—the baby next door. Woven into this narrative is a convincing portrayal of human growth and blossoming as Louie gains confidence and Nora finally allows herself to trust her present happiness. (Nora is a particularly original character about whom Creech tells us little and shows us much.) Set in an unspecified small-town past, largely free of adults and rich with unscheduled play time, the story is told simply but subtly, celebrating the unexpected strength of the vulnerable. SARAH ELLIS

Reprinted from the November/December 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine with permission from The Horn Book, Inc.,


Saving Winslow.  Creech, Sharon (author).  Sept. 2018. 176p. Harper, $16.99 (9780062570703); Harper, e-book, $16.99 (9780062570734). Grades 3-5.    

REVIEW. First published August 7, 2018 (Booklist Online).

With older brother Gus now away in the army, 10-year-old Louie feels lonely and somewhat insecure about his own abilities. Then Dad brings home a sickly, newborn mini-donkey, and Louie is determined that the jack survive. Dubbing him Winslow, Louie teaches the creature to suckle, administers antibiotic injections when he gets sick, takes him for walks through town, and allows the diapered foal free rein of the house. But as Winslow matures, Louie’s neighbors fail to appreciate his perfectly normal behaviors (i.e., braying), and it becomes clear that something must be done. Creech has created a winning protagonist in Louie: a child who is sensitive yet resilient, unfailingly kind, and determinedly optimistic despite his past experiences. Equally strong is Nora, a younger girl who has experienced her own losses: a younger brother and a dog. And while the story’s outcome (a return to the farm) may be obvious, Creech’s route to that conclusion is particularly skillful and satisfying. Short chapters and accessible prose make this an ideal choice for reading aloud or alone. — Kay Weisman                   Used with the permission of Booklist

School Library Journal (July 1, 2018) 

Gr 3-6-Ten-year-old Louie does not have a good track record for taking care of animals. Worms, goldfish, a hamster, a snake,áand a lizard are only a few of the pets that died or escaped on his watch. When his father brings home a weak, orphaned newborn mini-donkey from his Uncle Pete’s farm, Louie decides to do everything in his power to save him. Taking care of the donkey, which he names Winslow, helps Louie feel closer to his older brother Gus who is serving in the army. Interwoven stories of family and friendship include the girl troubles of his older friend Mack, his quirky new neighbor Nora who has experienced her own losses and is afraid to form attachments, and the hole left behind in his own family as Louie and his parents miss Gus. With short chapters, a timeless setting, and simple prose, this uplifting tale will have readers rooting for the donkey and the boy who nurses him back to health. VERDICT This heartwarming story is sure to be a hit with fans of E.B. White’sáCharlotte’s Web and Kate DiCamillo’sáBecause of Winn-Dixie.-Sarah Polace, Cuyahoga Public -Library System, OH © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.  

Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal ©2018