Overview

From two extraordinary talents, a beautifully crafted picture book for the Christmas season.

The three wise men, or the three kings, are familiar figures in the Christmas tradition. Newbery medalist Linda Sue Park has taken the brief biblical references to the three as the starting point for a new story. In it we meet a boy who is learning his father?s trade; a man who gathers resin from certain trees; a merchant in the marketplace; and three strangers in brightly colored robes ...

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The Third Gift

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Overview

From two extraordinary talents, a beautifully crafted picture book for the Christmas season.

The three wise men, or the three kings, are familiar figures in the Christmas tradition. Newbery medalist Linda Sue Park has taken the brief biblical references to the three as the starting point for a new story. In it we meet a boy who is learning his father’s trade; a man who gathers resin from certain trees; a merchant in the marketplace; and three strangers in brightly colored robes who are shopping for a gift for a baby. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline with exquisite paintings, this simple, moving tale of ordinary people involved in an extraordinary event brings new resonance to the well-known gift list of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Includes an author’s note.

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Editorial Reviews

Pamela Paul
Park…strikes a highly original note in this beautifully told and exquisitely illustrated story about a boy who learns from his father how to cultivate myrrh in the Arab desert.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
Somewhere in Ibatoulline’s ancient, almost-shimmering Arab desert landscape, a boy at his father’s side learns the family business of gathering valuable sap, which seeps like tears from certain trees. Neither father nor son realize the greatness of their wares as it is sold to three finely dressed men who add it to gifts of gold and frankincense that they are taking to “a baby.” Newbery Medalist Park’s lean, well-paced story bridges the ordinary and the sacred to powerful effect. Park’s author’s note describes her inspiration and includes some background on myrrh. Ages 6–9. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
"Newbery Medalist Park’s lean, well-paced story bridges the ordinary and the sacred to powerful effect."-Publishers Weekly, starred review

"This gorgeous picture book sheds thoughtful light on a fascinating facet of the Christmas story."-School Library Journal

"This is a beautiful book for giving and an excellent selection for sharing, both around the holidays and at any time of year."—Bulletin, starred review

Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
In the Christmas story of The Magi, the baby Jesus is presented with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. What is myrrh? Where does it come from? In the author's note at the back of the book, Park explains that since her childhood she has wondered. Her literary explanation weaves together the harvesting and sale of this funerary resin with the story of a boy who is learning from his father how to harvest it. Park engages her reader from the first line of this story set two-thousand years ago: "My father collects tears." The illustrations by the highly talented Ibatoulline pull the reader into the oversize book and story. They create the feeling of walking along with the narrator "in the heat and the dust" of this Middle Eastern region. The warm desert tones of the acrylic-gouache paintings depict the land and the marketplace. Ibatoulline's depiction of a special father-son bond mirrors the language of the child narrator. Only at the end does the reader learn that it is the young narrator who has harvested the tear that will be given to baby Jesus. In a perfect blend of a carefully crafted text and captivating illustrations, author and illustrator have created a beguiling and sophisticated Christmas book. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—A boy tells of the long walks he takes with his father, who collects pearls of sap from certain trees, a skill he has honed over years. These expensive "tears" are used as medicine and spice, and as incense at funerals—and when three strangers arrive at the marketplace to buy the finest tears "for a baby," readers discover that it is myrrh, one of the gifts to baby Jesus mentioned in Matthew 2:11. The hyperrealistic acryl-gouache illustrations depict the sandy beige hues and nuanced textures of a dry and inhospitable land, contrasting with the smooth skin and rounded cheeks of the young boy and his loving relationship with his father. This gorgeous picture book sheds thoughtful light on a fascinating facet of the Christmas story.—Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews

Newbery Medalist Park offers a Christmas story explaining how myrrh is harvested and how it came to be one of the gifts carried to the Christ Child by the three Wise Men.

Her story begins with an intriguing opening line: "My father collects tears." The story is narrated by a boy whose father is teaching him to harvest dried pearls of sap that bleed out of myrrh trees when the bark is cut. The dried sap, the boy postulates, is "called tears because it seems as if the tree is crying." The narrator explains the various applications of the tears, including the funereal use of the very best tears. The father allows his son to harvest the largest tear during their search, which is then sold at the spice market to three men who are taking special gifts to a baby. As the men leave on their camels, the boy is left wondering about this baby. The mysterious tone of the text and subtle references to tears, blood and mourning foreshadow the fate of this special newborn. Large-format illustrations in a subdued palette are suffused with golden light, complemented by parchment-colored backgrounds for the text blocks.

The cumulative effect of text and illustrations has a sad rather than celebratory feeling, unusual in a Christmas-themed story and therefore refreshing in a usually relentlessly cheery season. (author's note) (Picture book/religion. 6-9)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547772417
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 11/15/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • File size: 18 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Bagram Ibatoulline was born in Omsk, Russia, and attended the State Academic Institute of Arts in Moscow. He has worked in fine arts, graphic arts, mural design, and textile design, and is adept at painting in different styles. This is his first book for Clarion. He lives in Chichester, New York..
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