Just right by Birdie Black

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Ill. by Rosalind Beardshaw. Noisy Crow. 2011. ISBN 978 0 85763 030 8.
(Ages 4-7) Picture book. Humour. Christmas. An absolutely delightful story about giving a gift for Christmas has the king buying a large roll of beautiful red cloth for the dressmakers to make his wife a lovely cloak. The leftover cloth is then left by one of the maids on the doorstep where it is picked up by a kitchen maid. She uses some of it to make a jacket for her daughter, then leaves the scraps on her doorstep. Badger, spying the red cloth takes it home to make a red hat for his father. The scraps again are picked up and mittens are made for the squirrel's wife. The last little piece is found by the mouse and she finds it just right to make a scarf for Billy. Each present is wrapped or not, and left under the tree in each of the households, and on Christmas morning each is opened and appreciated. A beautiful double page spread at the end of the book shows all the givers and recipients proudly displaying their gift as they skate on the frozen lake.
This charming book shows the range of gifts given for Christmas and will elicit responses from the students listening or reading it themselves about what they receive and give for Christmas. That each piece of leftover cloth is used by the characters, makes a telling reminder that the giving of a gift is not about its monetary value but the impetus behind the giving of the gift. This book will be a valued inclusion in the Christmas stories used in classrooms and by parents at this time of the year, when discussing what the children will give for Christmas. It is a humorous look at what is important about giving, and incidentally a tale about recycling and making the best use of an object.
Fran Knight