Book Reviews

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The Best Kind of Gift by Kathi Appelt

A stranger comes to town. The opening spread shows Brother Harper on the hilly road, stopped to look at the town that would be his new home. The townsfolk are excited. The Dogwood All-Faith Tabernacle is getting a new parson-they decide to welcome him with a pounding.

"What is a pounding?" young Jory Timmons asks.

"Its when everyone takes a pound of this and a pound of that to make everyone feel at home," Mama explains.

Pounding is an old, old custom, like a baby shower, but this is to gather groceries and daily necessities to welcome the new pastor to his church. Well Jory decides that he would like to give a gift too. But what can he give? He is too young to bake with Mama, too young to help Papa with the milking. He is too young to help big brother Thomas carry a big bag of corn as feed for the pastor's mule. He tries to help grandma gather the eggs but succeeds only in startling the hens into flight. Oh what could he do?

Jory walks down the country road, kicking a small flat stone, thunk, thunk, thunk. This is what he has learnt so far: the best gift

1. is a treat

2. is given gladly

3. is useful

4. is something you are proud to give.

But where could he find such a gift? The pounding is tomorrow. Thunk. Think. Jory finds something, almost accidentally. Well, with a little hint from Grandpa, and a lot of searching, up and down the country roads he finds what he will gift Brother Harper. The next day Jory is in line along with everyone else. When his turn comes he hands the pastor a brown bag.

"Open it," he whispers. "It's exactly one pound."

The pastor looks momentarily puzzled and then breaks into a broad smile.

"You must have worked awfully hard to find a whole pound of such perfect rocks. Yep. The best kind of gift come directly from the heart."

That was Grandpa's gift to Jory, and the book's gift to its readers. It's not what you give but how you give it. Indeed the best kind of gift comes directly from the heart.

Title: The Best Kind of Gift

Author: Kathi Appelt

Illustrator: Paul Brett Johnson

Publisher: Harper Collins

Hardback: 30 pages

ISBN: 0-688-15393-3