Reviews for Gift


Booklist Reviews 2009 December #1
Amy's mother becomes homesick whenever the Chinese New Year rolls around. The postman, though, brings a little bit of her homeland when he delivers a package containing a letter and a stone carved into the shape of a dragon. Warm illustrations intermingle two cultures, as Amy's American home is imbued with symbols of her mom's native China--red delicacies, a portrait in the kitchen of her faraway family, a laughing Buddha, and dragon yard ornaments in front of the house. The letter, written in Chinese characters, first appears in a prominent double-page spread, and is then translated and accompanied by illustrations to tell a story within the story of how the stone was unearthed while tilling a field. Amy's uncle had it carved into a dragon pendant to present to Amy as a symbol of her heritage. Soft-edged watercolors with pastels and splashes of red, which represents good luck, are a perfect complement to this gentle story. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

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ForeWord Magazine Reviews 2009 September/October
It's Chinese New Year, and although Amy has never met any of her relatives in China, she knows her mother is feeling homesick. Then a package arrives with a letter from Amy's uncle. He describes how he was plowing his field one day and found a beautiful stone. "It was smooth and shiny, like the stones we found near the river when we were children," he writes to Amy's mother. The uncle takes the stone to a man in town who says there is something special hidden inside; a dragon. This is a lovely story about families and cultures staying in touch. Wonderful for lower elementary grades. ©2009 ForeWord Magazine. All Rights Reserved.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
During Chinese New Year, a woman and her daughter receive a letter from their family in China. With it comes a gift: a dragon carved by one uncle from a stone found by another uncle strung on a cord by an aunt and sent across the world for their niece. An author's note extends this slim but heartfelt story illustrated with atmospheric watercolors. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2009 August #2
It's Chinese New Year, and Amy and her mother (there's no mention of a father) are preparing for the holiday in their suburban house. Detailed watercolors show the big American kitchen, filled with dishes that Amy's mom is making with her wok and electric rice cooker. Amy is clearly excited about the holiday, but her mom just looks sad, gazing at a family photo. As the very brief story unfolds, a letter arrives in the mail that makes her much happier, accompanied by a gift for Amy: a beautifully carved jade pendant in the shape of a dragon, the "symbol of China." Mom's siblings, a farmer, a fisherman and a nurse living in China, have all contributed to making and sending the gift and letter. The author's note gives some insight into the Chinese New Year, though more information would be helpful. The story succeeds in evoking the importance of meaningful family relationships, especially over a distance. Quietly told, it is probably best for a child and a caregiver to read while sitting close together. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2009 November/December
Beautiful illustrations and a simple story describe the importance of family, even when they cannot be together. While the illustrations are outstanding, the story falls flat. Chen uses words and concepts that preschoolers will not understand, and this picture book presentation is too young for older readers. Unfortunately, while the author attempts to express the importance of the Chinese New Year celebration, he fails to create a story that readers will care about. Not Recommended. Karen M. Smith, Teen Librarian, Allen Park (Michigan) Public Library ¬ 2009 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 October

K-Gr 2--This simple story begins with a young Chinese-American girl, Amy, receiving a gift from her mother's sister, who lives in China. As her family prepares to celebrate Chinese New Year, a package arrives for Amy. It is a beautiful necklace made from a green stone her uncle found while plowing his fields. He took it to a carver who saw a dragon hidden inside and brought it out. The dragon was strung on a traditional red cord and sent to Amy on the other side of the world. Chen's text is spare but, combined with her luscious watercolors, evokes a vivid portrait of rural Chinese culture. Children will find much to notice and discuss in the illustrations, both in the pictures of Amy's home (with a tabletop orange tree in a pot, a Buddha statue in the garden, red gift envelopes on the table) and those of China (a water buffalo pulling a hand plow, Chinese boats, colorful paper lanterns, people walking with parasols to protect them from the sun). This is an uncomplicated introduction to the holiday and a lovely addition to most collections.--Mary Hazelton, Elementary Schools in Warren & Waldoboro, ME

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