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A viral video of a grandma reading “Wonky Donkey” has made the book a bestseller

By Thu-Huong Ha
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

A Scottish grandma unable to keep her shit together has become an unexpectedly powerful marketing machine for books.

The Wonky Donkey is a 2009 book by New Zealand musician Craig Smith with illustrations by Katz Cowley. Now it’s become a bonafide bestseller in the US after a video of a Scottish woman named Janice Clark reading the book to her unfazed grandson Archer became popular on YouTube.

In the video published this August, which has 1 million views on YouTube and 3.5 million on Facebook, Clark can barely manage to get through the book because she’s laughing too hard. The picture book has been the number-one-selling fiction book on Amazon for the last three weeks.

The book, which is based on a song of the same name written by Smith, was published by Scholastic Australia and Scholastic New Zealand in 2009. It was also released in the US, but didn’t make a particularly strong impression on parents and went out of print.

Courtesy Scholastic

But the video “sparked immediate interest in the book,” writes Tracy van Straaten, Scholastic’s vice president of trade publicity, by email. Now Scholastic has ordered an additional print run of 500,000 copies in the US and has released an ebook edition.

It’s not clear precisely what about the video has driven so many people to get out their credit cards and purchase The Wonky Donkey. Perhaps it’s Clark’s reading—where a parent might be more likely to read wearily through her 999th reading of a book, Clark is genuinely joyful—or the simple fact the video is a feel-good, benign piece of internet in a sea of garbage.

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