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Judge, 23rd Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards

Judge's Commentary:

Excellent cover image; very clever to have the adorable donkey featured in the take on the classic painting. Very engaging, and a good draw-in to the book. The illustrations within are lovely as well. Great choice of artist, and great pairing of imagery to the text.

Author excels at painting settings in the story. We get rich, lifelike settings with plenty of texture and sensory details. Creating a lifelike world for this story is a key to its success. Well done.

Author also does an excellent job with dialogue, differentiating the characters' voices and varying the dialogue lengths for more realism. We get good emotion from the conversations as well. There are some parts that would be better with dialogue and movement, instead of "telling" the story, such as on page 13 "Yosef's voice rang out. ..."

The message of "just believe it" is the centerpiece of faith, and it's delivered very well here on page 115.

We get to know this little donkey well, and we feel deep grief when it's said that he's looking for a place to die. It's so crushing, owing to the author's excellent skill in creating empathy for and connection with his character. Very well done, subtly but powerfully. We never feel lost for emotion here, which makes this book an excellent experience.

Review by Fran Sells

To breathe fresh life into familiar events is no small task, yet Ron Stock perfectly accomplishes that and more in his first short novel, Moses, God’s Blessed Donkey. Whatever assumptions might form on first hearing the title and the classic tale to which it eludes, prepare to settle down into rich layers of perfect story-weaving that inspire a close look into what is most important in life.

Though told through the eyes of a donkey and only 125 pages, this is not just a simple children’s story. Yosef, a shepherd, and his wife Martha, lead a simple life with their four children Jacob, Saul, Sarah and Bullion. When a surprise addition comes to the family, no one senses the importance that moment would have upon the future as keenly as Bullion, the young boy filled with dreams of grandeur and a uniquely tender heart toward Yahweh.

As Bullion grows from a boy to a man, his story is woven together with the unique events of the day: a bustling Jerusalem and the growing popularity of the man Jeshua, one who speaks with a peculiar power and has an equally peculiar effect on Bullion’s trusted donkey, Moses. Time ages Bullion, the seasons take their toll on Moses and Jerusalem tries to figure out who Jeshua is. With each chapter the reader is pulled deep into the life of all three until their stories converge in a beautiful and powerful way.

It is clear that Stock fully understands the setting and culture he chose for his book. The description of ancient customs and the corresponding word choices help create a setting easily envisioned and almost tangibly felt. Readers of every age can easily identify with the life lessons unearthed in this book: embracing responsibility, identifying one’s calling, coming of age in trying times and weathering the shifting seasons of life.

We all wonder how life will turn out, why certain moments seemed to slow time and just how particular events came to be. This book brings the reminder that there is always a reason, and more importantly, someone who sees clearly what we can only understand in hindsight.

Review by Kim Fout

I thought this book would be beyond my home schooled eighth grade daughter, but it is written with such an intriguing voice that she wouldn’t put it down. Even the scenes at the cross were handled both accurately and with chilling detail as to what our Savior went through for us. This is an excellent witness book for any junior high and above reader who looks for more than Bible stories.

A boy’s humble life turns into a fascinating narrative as he and his donkey Moses witness not only Christ’s birth in the manger on that moment in history that began in a stable, but as events lead them through the New Testament under Roman rule. Bullion, a poor and hard-working shepherd’s son, wishes for a life full of beautiful horses and chariots, but he learns to settle for his steadfast friend, a donkey named Moses. Together they visit a very special night in Bethlehem, and from there intersect with pivotal points in Christ’s life as he spreads his ministry and influence. Both tasteful and authentic in description, this story is easy to read and chilling in its accuracy of the crucifixion. An asset to every young adult reader’s library.

Review -Jessica Crooks

Reading Moses, God’s Blessed Donkey by Ron Stock was a treat. This little book, of only 146 pages was sweet and poignant and offered a different perspective on various stories from the Bible about Jesus. The story’s main characters, Moses, the donkey and his owner, Bullion have a friendship that could only have been sanctioned by a higher power.

Some scenes were so vividly painted that I would see, feel and almost taste what was being described. The author takes his readers on a journey right into the heart of the place where Jesus was born over 2000 years ago. Bullion’s encounter with the Christ Child on the night of his birth was powerful. Anyone, Christian or not, reading the scene would feel the magnetism of that moment. Years passed and as destined Bullion and his Moses travelled far from home to Jerusalem.

The love and compassion of Christ was again captured in the gaze shared by Bullion and Christ when he cleared the Temple of the sellers. Stock’s powerful words, “…it was as if God himself had somehow descended from on high and beamed upon him” summed up the movement completely. The sequence of events, all seem to line up perfectly so that Bullion and Moses could fulfill their destiny. Bullion’s destiny was far removed from his days helping his father herd sheep in his small village in Bethlehem. In so doing Stock takes readers through the various towns that were touched by Christ’s life, from the humble manger where he was born to the Garden of Gethsemane.

Stock’s telling of these well-known and loved Biblical stories not only serve to refresh and give new meaning to them, but also help to strengthen one’s faith. As a Christian myself, I will be sharing the story of Moses, God’s Blessed Donkey with my six-year old son. This book will take him from the manger to the Sea of Galilee and right through Christ’s journey to his crucifixion and resurrection.

In fact, Moses, God’s Blessed Donkey is the perfect book for readers, Christians and non-Christians alike of all ages.  They will fall in love with Moses, the donkey who seemed almost human. His mischievous ways will capture the heart of children everywhere as they dream as only children do.