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The Gift of the Magi (Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger)

The Gift of the Magi (Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger)

3.9 61
by O. Henry, Lisbeth Zwerger (Illustrator)

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O'Henry's most famous short story, "The Gift of the Magi" has a universal appeal that extends beyond the Christmas season. Set in New York at the turn of the century, the story centers on a young couple and the sacrifices each must make in order to buy the other a gift. The pictures by the award-winning Austrian illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger are infused with the


O'Henry's most famous short story, "The Gift of the Magi" has a universal appeal that extends beyond the Christmas season. Set in New York at the turn of the century, the story centers on a young couple and the sacrifices each must make in order to buy the other a gift. The pictures by the award-winning Austrian illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger are infused with the poignancy and delight of this simple tale about the rewards of unselfish love.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Zwerger's artistic talents breathe fresh life into a familiar story. The delicate watercolors convey the story of a young couple who have nothing, but who want to give each other a special gift at Christmas. Each parts with something that they held dear, only to end up with gifts that they can no longer use. Still, the love they have for each other is what shines through, and award-winning artist Zwerger captures it all in her lovely illustrations. 1997 (orig.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Fairy Tale Classics Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
8.59(w) x 13.54(h) x 0.35(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Read an Excerpt


A guard came to the prison shoe shop, where JimmyValentine was assiduously stitching uppers, and escort-ed him to the front office. There the warden handedJimmyhis pardon, which had been signed that morning by thegovernor. Jimmy took it in a tired kind of way. He had servednearlyten months of a four-year sentence. He had expected tostay only about three months, at the longest. When a manwith asmany friends on the outside as Jimmy Valentine had isreceived in the "stir" it is hardly worthwhile to cut his hair.

"Now, Valentine," said the warden, "you'll go out in the morning. Brace up, and make a man of yourself. You're not a bad fellow at heart. Stop cracking safes, and live straight."

"Me?" said Jimmy, in surprise. "Why, I never cracked a safe in my life."

"Oh, no," laughed the warden. "Of course not. Let's see, now. How was it you happened to get sent up on that Springfield job? Was it because you wouldn't prove an alibi for fear of compromising somebody in extremely high-toned society? Or was it simply a case of a mean old jury that had it in for you? It's always one or the other with you innocent victims."

"Me?" said Jimmy, still blankly virtuous. "Why, warden, I never was in Springfield in my life!"

"Take him back, Cronin," smiled the warden, "and fix him up with outgoing clothes. Unlock him at seven in the morning, and let him come to the bull pen. Better think over my advice, Valentine."

At a quarter past seven on the nextmorning Jimmy stood in the warden's outer office. He had on a suit of the villainously fitting ready-made clothes and a pair of stiff, squeaky shoes that the state furnishesto its discharged compulsory guests.

The clerk handed him a railroad ticket and the five-dollar bill with which the law expected him to rehabilitate himself into good citizenship and prosperity. The warden gave him a cigar, and shook hands. Valentine, 9762, was chronicled on the books "Pardoned by Governor," and Mr. James Valentine walked out into the sunshine.

Disregarding the song of the birds, the waving green trees, and the smell of the flowers, Jimmy headed straight for a restaurant. There he tasted the first sweet joys of liberty in the shape of a broiled chicken and a bottle of white wine--followed by a cigar a grade better than the one the warden had given him. From there he proceeded leisurely to the depot. He tossed a quarter into the hat of a blind man sitting by the door, and boarded his train. Three hours set him down in a little town near the state line. He went to the cafe of one Mike Dolan and shook hands with Mike, who was alone behind the bar.

"Sorry we couldn't make it sooner, Jimmy, me boy," said Mike. "But we had that protest from Springfield to buck against, and the governor nearly balked. Feeling all right?"

"Fine," said Jimmy. "Got my key?"

He got his key and went upstairs, unlocking the door of a room at the rear. Everything was just as he had left it. There on the floor was still Ben Price's collar button that had been torn from that eminent detective's shirt band when they had overpowered Jimmy to arrest him.

Pulling out from the wall a folding bed, Jimmy slid back a panel in the wall and dragged out a dust-covered suitcase. He opened this and gazed fondly at the finest set of burglar's tools in the East. It was a complete set, made of specially tempered steel, the latest designs in drills, punches, braces and bits, jemmies, clamps, and augers, with two or three novelties invented by Jimmy himself, in which he took pride. Over nine hundred dollars they had cost him to have made at ----, a place where they make such things for the profession.

In half an hour Jimmy went downstairs and through the cafe He was now dressed in tasteful and well-fitting clothes, and carried his dusted and cleaned suitcase in his hand.

"Got anything on?" asked Mike Dolan, genially.

"Me?" said Jimmy, in a puzzled tone. "I don't understand. I'm representing the New York Amalgamated Short Snap Biscuit Cracker and Frazzled Wheat Company."

This statement delighted Mike to such an extent that Jimmy had to take a seltzer- and-milk on the spot. He never touched "hard" drinks.

A week after the release of Valentine, 9762, there was a neat job of safe-burglary done in Richmond, Indiana, with no clue to the author. A scant eight hundred dollars was all that was secured. Two weeks after that a patented, improved burglar-proof safe in Logansport was opened like a cheese to the tune of fifteen hundred dollars, currency; securities and silver untouched. That began to interest the rogue-catchers. Then an old-fashioned bank safe in Jefferson City became active and threw out of its crater an eruption of banknotes, amounting to five thousand dollars. The losses were now high enough to bring the matter up into Ben Price's class of work. By comparing notes, a remarkable similarity in the methods of the burglaries was noticed. Ben Price investigated the scenes of the robberies, and was heard to remark:

"That's Dandy Jim Valentine's autograph. He's resumed business. Look at that combination knob-jerked out as easy as pulling up a radish in wet weather. He's got the only clamps that can do it. And look how clean those tumblers were punched out! Jimmy never has to drill but one hole. Yes, I guess I want Mr. Valentine. He'll do his bit next time without any short-time or clemency foolishness."

The Gift of the Magi. Copyright © by O. Henry. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Lisbeth Zwerger was born in Vienna, where she later studied at the Academy of Art. Internationally renowned as one of the finest contemporary illustrators of children's literature, Zwerger chose The Gift of the Magi as the first American story she illustrated.

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The Gift of the Magi 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 61 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in my literature class and loved it!!!! If anyone thinks its stupid they obviously dont know good literatire!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful story well written
mysterybuff47 More than 1 year ago
I've enjoyed this story since I first read it in high school English class. Ms. Zwerger's rich illustrations make this a book to be cherished and passed along through the family over time.
RGJrgj More than 1 year ago
I have made it a personal tradition at Christmas time to take time out, no matter how busy I am, to read "Gift of the Magi." After giving the old book (from which I always read this beautiful O.Henry story) to my daughter, I was a bit sad and missed the familiarity and history that particular book had for me. Then I found this new edition of the book at my favorite B&N store. P.J. Lynch's illustrations are exactly how my mind's eye has pictured this story for many years. It is beautiful. The story of love & selfless giving illustrated with lush style and imagination makes this book a pleasure each time I hold it in my hands. I'm also an e-book fan, but nothing can ever replace owning and reading this very lovely book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book; what a wonderful message. The selfless acts of two people warms the heart and sends a powerful message about giving. To the reviewer of March 10, 2013, you are showing your own lack of understanding and ignorance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This short story is about a couple that want to do the best to give a gift each other and they did. my favorite part of this short story is when they did everything for buy the gift. I recommend this story for all the girlfriend and boyfriend that have a true love. BY Luis Taveras
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my all time favorite Christmas reads
Businessbookjunkie More than 1 year ago
This is the most beautifully illustrated version of the Gift of the Magi I have seen. I purchased at least a dozen copies to give as small gifts during the holidays. The hardbound version is the best. The story reminds us all that Christmas is about placing others above self.
LilVin More than 1 year ago
Thanks a lot for this Masterpiece in many ways.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is such a great example of what it means to give from your whole heart and not expect to recieve anything in return. We have this book at our house and, when I was little, my mother would read it to us at christmas time, and ever since then, it has held a special place in my heart. the message of giving is one that we will never tire of learning from.
Anonymous 10 months ago
One of the 6 great Christmas stories. Original language of the period.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Learn the true mesning of giving through this 11 page short story. A sweet Christmas story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
They should really tell you this is only an 11 page preview.....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You are timless
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy this book. I was heavily interested in moral based stories and many stories are now laced with some form of morals but this one is still my top favorite, has been since I was in in fifth grade. Now I am 25 and have a daughter of my own and hope she comes to love this touching tales as I have. It may be an old fashioned book in some readers eyes but its always fresh in my mind with its enriching tale of thinking of loved ones. I recommend this to everyone, every single person. This isn't just something for moral teachings nor is it just for a holiday read, this is perfect for any mood. I love, love, love this
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this beautifully written book. Great for young readers. Could give over 10 stars.
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