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Gifts of the Heart Hardcover – Illustrated, October 3, 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 83 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 3—Reminiscent of Chris Van Allsburg's classic The Polar Express (Houghton Mifflin, 1985), this delightfully old-fashioned story reaffirms a child's belief in Santa Claus. The narrator, Trisha, and her older brother, Richie, prepare for their last Christmas on Grampa's farm before he has to sell the property. Dreaming of dolls and model trains, they want to make the holiday unforgettable even though they don't have much money. Kay Lamity, a wise, no-nonsense housekeeper arrives on their doorstep, bringing with her the true spirit of Christmas. Despite some initial difficulties, she befriends the children, sharing with them her belief that gifts from the heart don't come wrapped in paper and ribbons. Excited about seeing Santa in town, Trisha nearly has her Christmas ruined when Richie scoffs, "There ain't no Santa." Kay soon restores harmony in the house and helps Trisha and Richie make corn-husk angels, their gifts from the heart for Grampa and Momma. Trisha's faith in Santa is rewarded on Christmas morning when the siblings spot runner marks and hoof prints on the snow-covered roof and find two sleigh bells in the yard. Come spring, the magical Kay Lamity returns home, and to the family's surprise, the woman from the employment agency reveals that she hadn't sent her to them. Polacco's deftly drawn pencil and marker illustrations eloquently portray Trisha's nostalgic childhood world of cinnamon gumdrops, toy-store windows, and Santa parades, enhancing the warmth and charm of the story. Children will want to hear Gifts of the Heart every holiday season.—Linda L. Walkins, Saint Joseph Preparatory High School, Boston, MA

From Booklist

The signature illustration on the cover, featuring a close-up of a grandmotherly figure and two inquisitive children, signals that this is a familiar Polacco story of family warmth, this time with a touch of magic. The opening image sets the stage: Christmas dreams and a department-store window. Even without the text, we are transported to the old-fashioned world of Richie and his sister, the narrator. Because their grandmother has died, wise, loving Kay Lamity comes to help out around the farm on the last Christmas before it is sold. This is a story of longings, not just for gifts but for people and places that are gone or soon will be. The large illustrations flow over two pages and often focus on faces and gestures. Bright patterns in fabric and setting provide additional warmth even when snowflakes are interspersed. Emphasizing human connections, Polacco’s holiday story is quietly charming. Grades K-3. --Edie Ching

Product details

  • Lexile measure : AD660L
  • Grade level : Kindergarten - 3
  • Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
  • ISBN-10 : 0399160949
  • Hardcover : 40 pages
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0399160943
  • Dimensions : 8.88 x 0.41 x 11.31 inches
  • Publisher : G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers; Illustrated edition (October 3, 2013)
  • Language: : English
  • Reading level : 5 - 8 years
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 83 ratings

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