Thursday 10 January 2013

The Gift

The Gift by Penny Matthews, illustrated by Martin McKenna (Omnibus Books)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-1-545-86291-698-2
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

As Christmas approaches and all the special Christmas toys are being bought one by one, Brown Bear feels very plain sitting on the shelf in the toyshop. As he sits waiting with the crocodile, he gifts the only Christmassy thing he has, his ribbon, to his friend. When the crocodile is bought the next day, Brown Bear is alone and sad until finally on Christmas Eve, his wish is granted.

The Gift is a beautifully and simply told story filled with hope and expectation in the lead up to Christmas. It embodies the warmth and generosity of spirit which characterises Christmas and shows in a lovely way how insecurities can be overcome by love.

The text captures the rush of shoppers with, ‘worried faces’ and ‘long shopping lists’. It also brings out the friendship as well as the insecurities and anxieties of Brown Bear and the crocodile. All told in a soft and gentle manner.

The story is mirrored in the gorgeous and realistic illustrations. By not showing people’s faces, the focus is kept on the toys until the very last page. Here the baby is sleeping with Brown Bear, and here their relationship is highlighted.

This is a quiet Christmas story which will be welcomed in the frantic rush of December and I’m sure it will find its way into the hearts of young children.

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