Review Blog

Oct 22 2012

The gift by Penny Matthews

cover image

Ill. by Martin McKenna. Scholastic, 2012. ISBN 1862916985.
(Ages: 3+) Highly recommended. Picture book. Christmas. The little brown bear sits on the shelf in the shop, surrounded by toys which offer so much more than he. Others sing and dance, clap their hands or are festooned with colour, all designed to attract a buyer. But all the plain brown bear has is a red ribbon tied around his neck. When his companion the green crocodile and he watch the other toys being sold, they lament that they are still left on the shelf. Bear gives the crocodile his ribbon, and sure enough the crocodile is sold. Bear falls behind the counter, and is overlooked yet again until he is restored to his spot on the shelf, where a baby in a pusher calls out 'bear', impelling its father to buy him for their tree. At home, the baby calls out again and the bear is given the best gift of all, a place in someone's heart.
This is one of those books where tissues are needed, the subtle text accompanied by the beautiful soft illustrations will draw an emotional response from all who read it and hear it read aloud. Everyone has had the feeling of being left out, of being overlooked, of feeling unloved, so the fate of the bear and the crocodile will immediately elicit a response. Younger children will not only hear a beautifully told text, they will be engaged in thinking about those less fortunate than themselves, those left alone at Christmas, and so begin to understand the wider issues that Christmas brings in our community. Older children may begin to discuss the idea of gift giving, and think about the way things are sold in shops, marketed and displayed. But the basic story is one that can be read over and over again, a beacon outshining most of the other books offered by publishers at Christmas.
Fran Knight

Archived Blog Entries
Latest News
Miles Franklin longlist 2017
Reading Children's Book Prize 2017
Klaus Flugge Prize shortlist 2017
Branford Boase Award shortlist 2017
Text Prize 2017
NSW Premier Literary Awards shortlist 2017
Aurealis Awards winners
YABBA Awards shortlist 2017
Stella Prize 2017
2017 YALSA Teens' Top Ten Nominees
CBCA shortlists 2017
YA Book Prize 2017 shortlist
School Library Association Information Book Award 2017

ReadPlus Features
Print similar authors bookmark
Read similar authors
How to find lesson plans
Sample theme animation

Promote Reading
Staff holiday reading list 2016
South Australian Christian Schools Conference 2016 - Library Displays
Display calendars
Science fiction and fantasy lists SAETA conference 2015
Value of School Libraries
Library, Reading development and the Internet
Free Rights of the Reader Poster
Reviews: Author index
Books for boys
Bookmark and poster templates