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The True Gift: A Christmas Story
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Lily and her younger brother Liam take their annual trip to their grandparents' farm for Christmas, loaded with books to read and plans for buying presents at the local general store. But Liam notices right away that their grandparents' last cow, White Cow, is now all alone, and he believes it is lonely. So he embarks on a plan, with his sister's initially reluctant help, to find out about the emotional life of cows, and then to do something about it.
Is it any good?
Nobody, but nobody, can make the simple joys of family love so breathtakingly clear as Patricia Maclachlan does. How is it that she's never done a Christmas story before? Could there be a more perfect match for the holiday season than her gorgeously simple, lyrical prose, her gentle way of revealing depths of character through dialog, her deep understanding of the human heart?
Not only is there no sex, drugs, violence, swearing, or anything else a parent might be concerned about; there are also, as in Maclachlan's other books, no villains either. She doesn't need them. How is it possible for a story so sweet and gentle to be so engrossing and so deeply moving, yet not for a moment cloying or sappy? She does it, in part, with prose that is drily matter-of-fact and earthy, yet manages at the same time to read like the best poetry ever written for children, with rhythms that carry readers along on currents of feeling. This is a book to read together with a child, curled up on a winter evening in bed or in front of a fireplace, and let those currents carry your child into sleep.
The b&w drawings are gentle and unobtrusive.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the emotional lives of animals. Do they have feelings? How can we know? Are their feelings like ours?
Why do Liam and Lily make the sacrifices they do? What draws them, especially Liam, to White Cow? Why is Lily at first reluctant to go along?
Liam and Lily are very close siblings. What can make siblings close? What drives them apart? Is it realistic for siblings to care for each other this way? Do you care for your siblings and other relatives? Why?
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