Overview

Oskar sets out—with a single coin—to find the perfect gift for his mother. And he spots it at once: a beautiful yellow rose. But when he meets an artist, Oskar trades the rose for a paintbrush. And when he meets a conductor, he trades the paintbrush for a sheet of music. . . .

The bustling streets are full of interesting people and delightful possible presents, and Oskar ...
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Overview

Oskar sets out—with a single coin—to find the perfect gift for his mother. And he spots it at once: a beautiful yellow rose. But when he meets an artist, Oskar trades the rose for a paintbrush. And when he meets a conductor, he trades the paintbrush for a sheet of music. . . .

The bustling streets are full of interesting people and delightful possible presents, and Oskar trades one gift for another, and another, and another! But what he finds by the end of the day is even more precious.

Simple kindness is at the heart of this enchanting, gloriously-illustrated tale.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 12/02/2013
The beauty and rich culture of historic Vienna course through this sweet, circular story from Lodding (The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister), in which a boy strives to procure the perfect birthday present for his mother. Armed with a single coin, Oskar quickly finds his purchase—a yellow rose—in the middle of the street market. But before he can bring the lovely gift home, an artist asks Oskar if he’ll trade the flower for a paintbrush (“I can paint a picture for Mama,” says an amenable Oskar, “the perfect present!”). So begins a folktale-flavored chain of exchanges that eventually leaves poor Oskar empty-handed. Luckily, one of his kind deeds is rewarded just in time, bringing the story full circle. Colorful storefronts, elegant carriages, and a stately opera house depicted in Jay’s (The Cloud Spinner) earthy palette and crackle varnish help evoke an earlier century. Her stylized forms—along with spirited background appearances by a cat, fox, and runaway dog—underscore the vibrancy of city life. An author’s note about Vienna’s role in inspiring the book is included. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: The Organisation. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
Starred review, Publishers Weekly, December 2, 2013:
"The beauty and rich culture of historic Vienna course through this sweet, circular story from Lodding. . . . Colorful storefronts, elegant carriages, and a stately opera house depicted in Jay’s earthy palette and crackle varnish help evoke an earlier century.”

School Library Journal, March 2014:
"The narrative is well written and satisfying to read aloud. Jay’s crackle-glazed paintings are as dreamily beautiful as ever, masterfully composed, and full of interesting details. . . . A lovely and successful book about optimism, giving, and love."

Booklist, March 2014:
"As an introduction to a special time and place, Lodding’s unique offering will prove a treat for sensitive, imaginative readers."

Children's Literature - Susan Treadway
In the marvelous tradition of circular stories like those of Laura Numeroff and Robert Munsch, young Oskar seeks the perfect gift for his mother’s birthday along the streets of nineteenth-century Vienna. Depicted by crackled, vintage illustrations, cultural aspects of the period are displayed by pedestrians, shopkeepers, families, architecture, carriages, and artistic features. First, there is a lovely market place where Oskar selects the perfect yellow rose paid for with a single coin, all he had. Next, a nearby artist trades his beautiful horsehair paintbrush for Oskar’s wonderful rose; and so, he envisions the perfect picture for his Mama. However, as he comes upon the famous Opera House filled with musicians, a conductor trades a brand new melody for Oskar’s perfect “baton” (Mama loves music!) Several pages later the excited boy sees the prettiest girl sitting by a canal’s edge distraught over not having a finished portrait for her mother’s birthday. Thus, an ongoing theme of precious generosity and kindness is graciously brought full circle as they exchange perfect gifts in tears. Readers share tremendous empathy for the son’s plight with grand possibilities. Mama wraps her arms around Oskar while savoring his perfect yellow rose is a most tender finale. Appropriate for all ages and groups, this exquisite tale renders a timeless classic treasure for generations to come. Reviewer: Susan Treadway; Ages 4 to 8.
School Library Journal
03/01/2014
K-Gr 2—In this lovely, circular story set in 19th-century Vienna, Oskar searches for the perfect gift for his mother, armed with a single coin. Each time he acquires a gift, starting with a perfect yellow rose, he meets someone who convinces him to trade it for something else. Finally, the day is over, and he is back where he started. In the concluding paragraph, Lodding states that most of the people Oskar meets are important figures from Viennese history-Gustav Klimt, Felix Salten, Johann Strauss II, and Empress Sisi-and that this is Vienna's story as well as Oskar's. The narrative is well written and satisfying to read aloud. Jay's crackle-glazed paintings are as dreamily beautiful as ever, masterfully composed, and full of interesting details. Unfortunately, in this case, the soft surrealism of her landscapes works against her revelation that the story is meant to be firmly rooted in the city's history. While the text and illustrations are wonderful in their own right, it is a shame that the historical connections really only exist in the author's note. Whether or not an opportunity was lost, this is a lovely and successful book about optimism, giving, and love. Purchase without hesitation.—Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN
Kirkus Reviews
2014-03-17
An earnest boy walks the streets of turn-of-the-20th-century Vienna, seeking the perfect present for his mother's birthday. Lodding begins in the morning with Oskar peering "wide-eyed into the shop windows" of the bustling city, where "[s]hoppers and sellers filled the streets, and carriages clippity-clopped against the cobblestones." The descriptive language reveals a task to be completed. He must find something to buy his mother even though he has but one coin. Oskar spots a striking yellow rose and promptly buys it. But an artist admires his flower and trades him a paintbrush for the bloom. Oskar then decides this will be the perfect item with which to paint his mother a picture. Agreeable and ever helpful Oskar then encounters a conductor, a writer and the empress, and a trade occurs each time. As the sun begins to set, he runs along the Danube, eager to present his gift to his mother…until he notices a girl crying. He discovers that she is in a similar predicament and decides to give the girl his gift even if that means he is left with nothing. When all seems hopeless, a tap on the shoulder from the girl reveals a most beautiful and familiar resolution. The beauty and warmth of the tale is skillfully matched in Jay's glowing illustrations that appear to have an aged, crackled finish. Treat this lovely story as a gift worth sharing. (note) (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385753333
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/25/2014
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: NOOK Kids
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,213,503
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • File size: 15 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

LINDA RAVIN LODDING is a freelance writer and author of the children's picture book The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister, illustrated by Suzanne Beaky, and the upcoming Hold That Thought, Milton!, illustrated by Ross Collins. Linda is originally from New York, but lives in Sigtuna, the oldest city in Sweden.

ALISON JAY is a graduate of the London College of Printing and is the acclaimed illustrator of many picture books, including The Cloud Spinner, published by Knopf Books for Young Readers. Her signature style is created using alkyd paint on thick cartridge paper, with a crackle varnish, giving an aged effect.
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