The True Gift: A Christmas Story

( 9 )

Overview

All year long Lily and Liam look forward to Christmas on their grandparents' farm. It's always the perfect trip — walking to the lilac library, trimming the tree, giving gifts. But this year, thanks to a white cow alone in the meadow, things will be different. This Christmas, Lily and Liam will find out the meaning of a true gift.

From one of our most beloved authors comes a brand-new holiday classic that rings in the season by celebrating the ...

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The True Gift: A Christmas Story

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Overview

All year long Lily and Liam look forward to Christmas on their grandparents' farm. It's always the perfect trip — walking to the lilac library, trimming the tree, giving gifts. But this year, thanks to a white cow alone in the meadow, things will be different. This Christmas, Lily and Liam will find out the meaning of a true gift.

From one of our most beloved authors comes a brand-new holiday classic that rings in the season by celebrating the joys of family, community, and true giving.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Newbery Medalist MacLachlan offers a quietly moving Christmas story that illustrates the power of children to change their world…. Floca's delicate, full-page pencil illustrations complement the text with understated emotion.”

“The simple, elegant prose tells a warm family story with a classic holiday theme. Floca’s graphite and ebony pencil drawings are lush with evocative detail and perfectly complement this lovely offering.”

“With MacLachlan's well-drawn characters and Floca's simple pencil and graphite drawings, it's a poignant story with a classic feel.”

Publishers Weekly
In this sweetly engaging chapter book, two siblings visit their grandparents' farm for Christmas. Liam, an especially sensitive bibliophile (he takes 37 books along), notices “White Cow” standing all alone in their field and worries she's lonely. While initially reluctant, narrator Lily goes along with Liam's plan to buy a cow friend for White Cow; as they pool their money, Liam posts signs asking for help from the community and sells his books. With MacLachlan's well-drawn characters and Floca's simple pencil and graphite drawings, it's a poignant story with a classic feel. Ages 7–up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
Christmas stories may seem slight, given their short tenure on the bookstore shelves. Adding "A Christmas Story" to a book's title may seem like the kiss of death marketing-wise. Does not such a specification imply that the work has limited, calendar-bound relevance for readers? Award-winning author Patricia MacLachlan's book sweetly defies this convention. Her addition to the genre proves that such holiday offerings may be substantial works worthy of thought more than just a few days or weeks of the year. Lily and her younger brother Liam love their Christmas visit to their grandparents' farm. They look forward to it the rest of the year. They bring books to read and help on the farm and Christmas shop in the village. But this year something seems different. Immediately upon their arrival, the siblings notice that White Cow is alone in the pasture. Her longtime companion, a donkey that has been boarded at the farm, has returned to its home. Liam is convinced that White Cow is lonely on her own and in need of some companionship. Lily initially scoffs, believing that cows cannot feel things like that. As the days pass, Lily begins to believe Liam is right. Meanwhile, Liam has developed a plan. It is a simple, sweet, straightforward plan. But is it an impossible plan? Readers will be drawn into this heartwarming tale of family, compassion, community, and giving that is perfect for Christmas—or anytime. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4–Lily and her younger brother go to their grandparents’ farm for Christmas, as always. This year something is different; White Cow is the only animal in the field. Liam, certain that she is lonely, sacrifices his beloved books to buy her a calf companion, and Lily overcomes her fear of the large animal. The simple, elegant prose tells a warm family story with a classic holiday theme. Floca’s graphite and ebony pencil drawings are lush with evocative detail and perfectly complement this lovely offering.–Virginia Walter, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Newbery Medalist MacLachlan offers a quietly moving Christmas story that illustrates the power of children to change their world. Lily, the first-person narrator, and her younger brother, Liam, spend every Christmas vacation at their grandparents' farm. Liam wants to buy a cow as a companion for the family's pet, White Cow, who seems lonely out in the field by herself. By Christmas Eve, Liam has raised enough money to buy a calf companion, but there is also a Christmas surprise of several cow visitors brought by neighbors to keep White Cow company for the holiday. MacLachlan uses her typical taciturn style featuring dialogue and minimal description to convey the intense feelings of the sensitive little boy trying to accomplish a seemingly impossible task. Floca's delicate, full-page pencil illustrations complement the text with understated emotion. (Fiction. 7-10)
Children's Literature - Shirley Nelson
Lily and her younger brother Liam are excited about their annual visit with Gran and Grandpa. Their parents take them to the farm to spend a week or so before Christmas. The siblings look forward to this special time with their grandparents. They have saved money all year to buy Christmas gifts in the shops of the small town. As always, each has come with plenty of books to read. In fact, this year Liam has brought thirty-seven, while Lily has fifteen. When they arrive at the farm, Liam immediately becomes worried about a white cow that he is sure is very lonely. Although Grandpa assures him that cows do not have emotions, Liam is convinced otherwise. He posts notices all over town hoping to find a friend for White Cow; he receives many phone calls from farmers willing to sell him a cow. But how are he and Lily going to purchase a cow companion with their meager savings? This touching Christmas story shows that one must never give up on dreams, especially at Christmas. Floca's simple black-and-white drawings lend a special quality to this delightful story. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416990819
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 10/6/2009
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 1,350,861
  • Age range: 7 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: 480L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia MacLachlan is the author of many well-loved novels and picture books, including Sarah, Plain and Tall, winner of the Newbery Medal; its sequels, Skylark and Caleb’s Story; Edward’s Eyes; The True Gift; Waiting for the Magic; White Fur Flying; and Fly Away. She lives in western Massachusetts.

Brian Floca is the author and illustrator of Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book and a New York Times Best Illustrated Book; Lightship, also a Sibert Honor Book; Racecar Alphabet, an ALA Notable Children’s Book, and Locomotive, the recipient of seven starred reviews and a New York Times 2013 Best Illustrated Children’s Book. He has illustrated Avi’s Poppy Stories, Kate Messner’s Marty McGuire novels, and Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan’s Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring, a Sibert Honor Book and winner of the Orbis Pictus Award. You can visit him online at BrianFloca.com.

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Read an Excerpt

The True Gift Chapter One

Liam and I sit on the backseat of Papa’s old car. The car heater isn’t working, so Liam and I share a blanket. We can see our breath in the air.

“How many books did you bring?” whispers Liam.

Liam and I share a worry. Our school closes for ten days, and we’re going to Grandpa and Gran’s house. We always go there in December, waiting for Christmas and Mama and Papa to come Christmas Day. We worry about not taking as many books as we’ll need.

“I brought fifteen books,” I say.

“I brought thirty-seven,” says Liam.

I burst out laughing.

“Don’t worry, Lily. There is the stone library if you run out.”

Liam runs out of books all the time. Sometimes he reads three chapter books in one day.

I smile.

We love that stone library, our second home at Grandpa and Gran’s farm.

“The lilac library,” Liam says.

It’s true. No matter what time of year—winter or summer or fall or spring—that library smells like lilacs.

Liam takes a book out of the bag at his feet. I smile. I am three years older than Liam, and I have a sudden sweet memory of teaching him how to read. He was four years old and he grinned for two weeks when he figured out the mystery of words.

“We’ll have snow,” says Papa, looking up at the sky. Liam and I laugh, and Mama laughs too. We call Papa the Weather Man.

And suddenly, as if his words bring it on, snow begins to fall; flakes one by one, slowly at first, then harder. Papa turns on the windshield wipers, and we watch the back-and-forthing of them.

“I hope the library stays open if it snows,” says Liam.

“That library is always open,” says Mama. “That library has been open ever since I was a little girl.”

We turn into the long dirt driveway to Grandpa and Gran’s house, past the meadow where White Cow turns her head to watch us go by.

“Where’s Rosie?” asks Liam. “Where’s the donkey?”

“Don’t know,” says Mama. “Can’t see her.”

The snow is coming harder now and is beginning to stick to the road. It is almost dusk.

“Did you bring your money?” asks Liam.

I nod.

We have worked weekends and after school to earn money for Christmas presents. I babysat for the three Cooper children across the street. Liam and I both mowed lawns and shoveled snow when it came. Once he painted a shed. There are only two stores in Gran and Grandpa’s small town. But that is enough for us to buy presents for everyone.

Liam holds up a red sock with a gray stripe. It is fat with his money.

I smile. The car passes the barn and pulls up to the front porch of the big white house. There are Christmas lights in every window. Gran and Grandpa come out to wave. Their terriers, Emmet and Charlie, bark fiercely at us, then race down the porch steps happily for jumping and licking.

Snow falls harder.

We’re here!

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

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(6)

4 Star

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3 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 12, 2011

    This ia a great Christmas story!

    In the book "The True Gift" this book shows how to children find the real meaning of Christmas. Patricia has written Christmas story that has meaning. All year long Lilly and Liam look forward to spending Christmas at the grandparent's farm. Lilly and Liam always have a lovely trip to the library, trimming the tree, giving gifts and being with family. But this year, thanks to a white cow alone in the meadow, things will be different. Lilly and Liam have always thought gifts were gifts, but this Christmas they will find out the meaning of "the true gift".
    The author Patricia MacLauchlan has written a book that both children and parents would love to read. Parents I think would love to read the book because you can read the book to your children. I also think that parents will like to read this because not only does it show the parents, but also the children the true meaning of Christmas. Me myself being a child loved and would read this book again.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Excellent read

    I was looking for a Christmas book for book club at school. I read this one and was thrilled! It was a good read for me and my 2nd and 3rd grade daughters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2012

    Best book ever must read

    Must read hahah

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 16, 2012

    Simple, yet beautiful story told in classic Patricia MacLachlan

    Simple, yet beautiful story told in classic Patricia MacLachlan style. Touching and achingly beautiful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 22, 2010

    i love this book.it is sooooooooooooo good.

    great

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2014

    Ggf

    Good

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2014

    Nice

    Goo

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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