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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The True Gift, written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Brian Floca. Atheneum, Simon & Schuster, 2009. $16.99 ages 7 and up

"Sometimes a red fox came to drink from the stream. Sometimes deer came through the meadow to nibble crab apples left on the tree by the barn. Crows clattered overhead. But most days White Cow stood alone in the big meadow."

This is such a gentle loving story to share at this time of year. It takes little time to read it; but the impact of its message of unconditional love and giving in the true spirit of Christmas will remain with those who share it.

Lily and Liam love spending Christmas holidays with their grandparents. They love the farm, the visits to the village, the yearly tradition of spending time alone before their parents arrive for Christmas Day. They love the animals, too. This year they notice that there is only one animal in the yard...a White Cow, and she seems lonely to Liam. He thinks she is missing the donkey who was her companion at one time. Liam has come with his sock full of money for buying this year's presents. Seeing White Cow all alone gets him to thinking and his sister to worrying about his thinking.

Liam is determined to find someone to keep the cow company and he is willing to spend all his money on that purchase. When he doesn't have enough, he puts up posters asking for help in buying a friend for White Cow. He meets with success and the family is content that White Cow will now be happy for Christmas. Imagine their surprise when they hear a commotion outside and discover just how many friends and neighbors are feeling the true spirit of the season!

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