Gifts and Christmas Joy

by Dianne White on December 22, 2011

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Although our ReaderKidZ giveaways officially ended two days ago, there are still a few shopping days left before Christmas, which means that many of us can be found browsing bookstores for last minute gifts. After all, good books are wonderful presents any time of year. And is there anything better than cuddling up with a child in these sometimes busy days before Christmas? Truth be told, it’s oftentimes exactly those special, quiet moments of sharing a book that serve to remind us all to slow down and enjoy the important things – time together, our faith, and the gifts of the season.

THE THIRD GIFT by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

“My father collects tears. That is what they are called: the pearls of sap that seep out of a tree…”

The tears of sap are what we know as myrrh, a plant native to the Arabian Peninsula, and one of the gifts brought by the Wise Men to the young Christ Child. I’d known the story of how, in earlier times, myrrh was used primarily as an embalming oil and understood the significance this unusual gift held as it foreshadowed what would become of the babe in a manger born to be Savior. But here, the story is told from the point of view of another young child, ordinary in every way, but extraordinary in that he is the one who harvests the large tear of myrrh which is later sold in the marketplace. The myrrh which makes its way on the back of a camel, across the desert with the Magi, to a place lighted beneath a faraway star.

In her author’s note, Linda Sue Park writes: “I love thinking about the roles of ordinary people in history’s great events… We are as much a part of it as those whose names dominate the headlines.”

This beautiful book, with extraordinary illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline, brings together historical and Biblical references to weave a story in which the ordinary and extraordinary intersect.

ONE STARRY NIGHT by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Jonathan Bean.

Both a tender recounting of the Christmas story and a gentle reminder, told in two voices, of the sweetness of a mother’s love for her young child, this short picture book poem with striking illustrations by Jonathan Bean, is a book readers will agree captures the warmth and depth of the season.


Young Pyn has her heart set on decorating the perfect Christmas tree – her first! But her father, the well-meaning but ratherĀ  gruff bear of a man, Oother, can’t be bothered with such sentimentality. And while Oother loves Pyn very much, he can’t quite soften up enough to change his bristly ways.

But Oother can’t stay loud and gruff forever, and Pyn, cheery and soft-spoken as she is, eventually brings Christmas joy and the true spirit of the holiday back into both of their lives.


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