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The Gift of the Magi

The Gift of the Magi

3.9 61
by O. Henry

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Young couple prepares for Christmas Day. But with no money, how can either Della or Jim buy a proper gift for the other? The young couple possesses only two items of value: Jim's gold watch and Della's wondrous hair. Yet as Christmas Day nears, through blind generosity and love, Della and Jim become the wisest of gift givers.

This inspired adaptation


Young couple prepares for Christmas Day. But with no money, how can either Della or Jim buy a proper gift for the other? The young couple possesses only two items of value: Jim's gold watch and Della's wondrous hair. Yet as Christmas Day nears, through blind generosity and love, Della and Jim become the wisest of gift givers.

This inspired adaptation breathes new life into the beloved and classic tale by prolific American writer O. Henry.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - JoAn Watson Martin
Della is desperate. Christmas is nearly here, and she has only been able to save one dollar and eighty-seven cents. No matter how many times she counts it, she cannot imagine finding a present good enough for Jim without more money. The only solution she finds is to flop down on their shabby couch and howl. To make matters worse, Jim's income has been cut back. After she finishes her cry, she watches a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard, which reflects her gray mood. Suddenly as she looks in the mirror she is inspired to grab her hat and coat and go out in the snow to Sofronie's Hair Goods shop. With the twenty dollars she gets from selling her hair, she finds a platinum fob chain for Jim's prize possession. She remembers his embarrassment when he has to check the time on the sly so no one will notice the worn leather strap that he is using in place of a chain. When Della returns home, she sets her short hair in tiny curls and hopes Jim will still think she is pretty. Della cannot read the expression on his face when he walks in the door. Is he angry, or surprised, disappointed or horrified? Jim looks around the room as if her hair must be there somewhere. His gift to her is dependent on her cascade of hair like her gift to him is dependent on his gold watch. The Magi invented the art of giving gifts by bringing presents to the Christ child. O. Henry was a master of the short story. P.J. Lynch depicts an apartment in the city of a hundred years ago, including the dress and crowds in the street. He loved illustrating this story because of the relationship between Della and Jim, "which is at its heart." Reviewer: JoAn Watson Martin
School Library Journal

Gr 5 Up

An illustrated, unabridged version of the classic short story in which a young husband and wife each, unbeknownst to the other, gives up a most treasured possession to buy the other a wonderful gift. The gifts, of course, are useless as a result, but the couple's love is presumably all the stronger. The sepia-toned watercolors have an authentic period look; the details present in the New York City street scenes and the couple's rather shabby apartment add a strong feeling of time and place to the story. Very different in style from Lisbeth Zwerger's lovely and delicate version (S & S, 2006), this is a fine choice for libraries needing another illustrated edition of this Christmas tale.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library

From the Publisher
“German artist Sonja Danowski gives a faded, almost grubby-looking elegance to her artwork for O. Henry's 1906 tale of Yuletide sacrifice….Her sepia-toned illustrations set in the late 19th century suit the story exactly, evoking the poverty of the devoted young wife and …. In concert with the pictures, the arch tone and surprise ending of O. Henry's original story make for excellent delivery aloud to children age 8 and older.”—Wall Street Journal


"One of my favorite stories about love, sacrifice, and generosity is O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi. Beautifully illustrated by Sonja Danowski, this traditional story of giving a gift to your most precious loved one... [is] filled with important messages for any time of year." —Jenny Williams, geekdad.com

Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
O. Henry's traditional Christmas story has been newly illustrated in an oversized picture book format. Danowski's sepia illustrations have the look of hand-tinted early twentieth-century photographs, a beautiful complement to the literary text. The details, such as photographs hanging on the wall, simple Christmas decorations, tenement buildings outside the window, and the horse-and-buggy in the street draw the reader into the time period. The color red is used sparingly, predominantly on Dell's blouse and in the store window. It provides depth and definition to the pictures. The endpapers look like a flower and vine wallpaper. This delicate red flower with green vines accompanies each page of text. Danowski is particularly good at creating emotive faces that clearly show the main characters' feelings. If you are looking for a gift book, or to replace an old version of this story in the library collection, this is an excellent choice. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
Kirkus Reviews
The sentimental short story is presented in an elegant edition with moody illustrations reminiscent of antique sepia photographs. The story, first published as a book in 1906, is rather flowery and wordy, with old-fashioned constructions such as "the silent imputation of parsimony." The plot revolves around a young couple, Della and Jim, who live a Spartan life in their tiny flat. Each wants to buy a special Christmas gift for the other, but there is only a little money for presents. Della sells her beautiful, knee-length hair to buy a watch chain for Jim's prized pocket watch, but at the same time, Jim sells his watch to buy a set of hair combs for Della. They realize that their love for each other is their real gift that they must treasure. The oversized, full-page illustrations are in muted shades of browns and grays, with the only touch of color in Della's muted, rose-colored blouse and complementary roses in the Art Nouveau style decorating each page of text. Each rose is larger than the one preceding, and the stylized flowers are repeated in elegant endpapers printed with twining roses and vines. Though the story is long and of another era, Henry's touching account of young love at Christmas has an enduring appeal. (Picture book. 10 & up)

Product Details

CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.06(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

William Sydney Porter, better known by his pen name O.Henry, was an American writer. O. Henry's short stories are known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterization and clever twist endings.


Sonja Danowski was born in

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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 25 days 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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