Children’s Book Author Rebecca P. Murray Publishes Past’s Story to Honor Legacy of Slain Donkey

Rebecca P Murray

Past The Heart of a Donkey

30 years after his death, Past’s message lives on in a children’s book

I was honored to collaborate on this project to share and preserve Pasado’s tragic and beautiful legacy.”

— Lori Burkheimer, Artist

MOUNT VERNON, WA, USA, April 13, 2022 / — Animal advocate and children’s book author Rebecca P. Murray gives Past a voice to tell his own story in her new book Past: The Heart of a Donkey. Past, a 21-year-old donkey, was a family favorite and resident of Kelsey Creek Park in Bellevue, Washington. Tragically, he was found strangled in his pasture on the morning of April 16, 1992.

The trial of three young men responsible for Pasado’s death produced a firestorm of animal activism that birthed a new law and an animal sanctuary in Pasado’s name. The book aims to tell Pasado’s story about him in a kid-friendly way to honor Past and those who rose up in his name about him on behalf of animal-kind.

Whimsical watercolors illustrations by Lori Burkheimer add character, depth, and lightheartedness to Pasado’s story. Burkheimer, familiar with Pasado’s story, felt an instant connection to the book. “I was honored to collaborate on this project to share and preserve Pasto’s tragic and beautiful legacy of him.”

Because of the graphic nature of Past’s demise, Murray takes great care to emphasize positive outcomes that often follow tragedy. “The message of silver linings is part of Pasado’s beautiful legacy,” said Murray.

Murray, a longtime supporter of the animal sanctuary named after Pasado, had longed for a way to share Pasado’s story with others. “When I received the 25th-anniversary newsletter five years ago, Pasado’s story came to me in the first person, as Pasado himself.”

But it wasn’t until Murray published her first children’s book, The Bird and The Hippo, in 2020 that she pulled the story out of her archives and considered the notion of publishing it for children.

Murray reached out to Pasado’s Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary and shared her first draft. Staff, excited by having a kid-friendly way to share Pasado’s story, lent their full support to the project by providing historical photos and stories of three additional animal residents. Past introduces the animals as his ‘sanctuary friends’ who share stories of transformation, highlighting the sanctuary’s good work.

“I’m pleased to preserve Pasado’s story as an important part of Washington State history,” Murray stated. “Thirty years after his death of him, Past’s story is not well-known. I hope this book can keep his memory of him alive.”

Past: The Heart of a Donkey offers a timeless message of compassion in action and is appropriate for children eight and older. Published by ByWater Press, the book is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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Rebecca P. Murray shares inspiration behind new book.


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