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The Most Precious Gift Hardcover – September 14, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3–Ameer is a poor, third-assistant kennel keeper traveling in his king's caravan to visit the Christ child. Arriving in Bethlehem, he feels ashamed of having no gift to give and decides to wait outside the stable instead of going in to view the newborn. In the chaos of the moment, however, he is swept along by the crowd and into the presence of the holy family. Inspired by the serenity he feels, he resolves to give the only thing that is precious to him–his dog and best friend, Ra. The king advises against it, but Mary praises Ameer for his sacrifice, calling it the most precious gift of all. As a result, the boy's life is blessed, Ra sees Jesus and his family safely to Egypt, and, over time, the Christmas star fades and is replaced by the Dog Star. This touching story is simply yet elegantly told. Cooper's artwork is finely rendered and evocative. The grainy textures complement the desert scenery and provide a fitting dreamlike quality that is well suited to the text. This lovely book will help balance collections heavy with holiday frippery.–Linda Israelson, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The story is a familiar one. A young boy is on his way to see the baby Jesus but has no gift to bring. Here the boy is Ameer, the third assistant kennel keeper, who is following the caravan of his merchant master with his dog, Ra, whom he rescued as a pup. What exactly Ameer is doing on this particular journey is never really made clear, but both Crisp's heartfelt story and Cooper's soft-edged artwork capture his yearning to honor the baby in appropriate fashion. In the end, Ameer decides to give up his beloved dog to the child, and listeners may be surprised that Mary and Joseph accept the gift, which is so dear to Ameer. Cooper's art utilizes night colors highlighted by golds and browns to tell the story, in which all the major characters appear to be of African descent. An intriguing author's note describes the fact that a white dog is repeatedly portrayed in fourteenth- through sixteenth-century Nativity paintings, which were the impetus for Crisp's story. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
The boy isn't even Egyptian or traveling with Egyptians, why does his dog need to be named that? From the moment this book starts the dog Ra takes center stage and keeps it until the very end. Jesus doesn't need help or protection from a pagan deity to get to Egypt. Even the wise-men act contrary to the way they were portrayed in the Bible. Why would the wise-men have a problem with Ameer giving everything he has?
Look at the huge caravan with gifts they brought and how far they traveled! They came to worship Jesus and offer huge amounts of treasures, not deprive him of gifts! Then the star that guided the wise-men and spoke of Jesus is replaced by a star dedicated to the dog Ra! To add injury to insult the boy gets powers to see the future because he gave Jesus a gift! This leads people to believe that the God of the Bible gives his power to pagan people, and supports the belief that everyone is worshiping the same person, just with a different name.
Once you take away all the cuteness of the boy and the dog you are left with Ra being special, Ra being precious, Ra leading Jesus and Ra replacing Jesus! The Bible constantly speaks against the evil done in Egypt, shows people being delivered from Egypt, Egypt and a dog named after it's top god are the main focus of this book! The Noah movie by Darren Aronofsky and the movie Exodus: Gods and Kings by Ridley Scott did the same thing. "I know let's make a lot of money off Christians by recreating a Bible story!" "We don't really believe in it, so we will just take God out of the center and show people, science or some mythical creature accomplish everything in the story without God!"
God protected Jesus and lead his earthly parents where they needed to go from the very beginning through angels and dreams. I repeat, God is GOD, he needs no assistance from a pagan god to protect his son! If you can't stay true to the heart of the story, which is JESUS, not Ra, and be creative at the same time, it's best not to make the book at all!