Third Gift

Third Gift

A father and son walk out into the desert wearing their long robes in search of the spiny grayish green trees that hold the special pearls. The boy is proud of his father who has the special gift of being able to see inside the trees to know when they are ready to release their sap. With wisdom born of years of practice father chooses the trees and gently carves two cuts in the bark. When the tree is ready, a pearl of sap...a tear.. seeps out and hangs waiting to be picked.

Back at the marketplace men will pay good money for these tears which can be used as medicine, for making wine, and for the rituals of funerals. On a special day the young boy is privileged to carve his own two cuts in a tree which call forth an especially big tear. At the market three men eye the tears and choose the large one. They have already a "gift of gold, and a gift of frankincense." Now they add a gift of myrrh. This is a book filled with golden light and reverence. A beautiful story with a pervading feel of mystery, of pride, of joy between father and son. One of those special books to read to children to gift them with that extra dimension to our lives.  Illustrated with dignity and a slight formality which add to the atmosphere. Ages 5-9

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What is myrrh? Discover its value as a boy learns and is rewarded when

he offers THE THIRD GIFT. This beautiful book is written by the Newbery

Award winner, Linda Sue Park and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. An

earnest young boy, following his father’s trade, learns the careful collection

of a special tree’s valuable resin. One day, an unusual sized resin is

delicately harvested and eventually given to a Newborn. Park’s remarkable

storytelling takes a quiet pair going about their ordinary work that leads to a

greater good.

On the book cover, seeing a young boy holding a shiny ball in his hands

catches the reader’s eye. This illustration presents the question: What is THE

THIRD GIFT? The title’s beautifully drawn script calligraphy hints of the

exotic Middle East time period. The font, text, and the boy’s gaze with the

shiny ball in his hand entice the reader to this extraordinary story. The first

line of text is as simply stated as the two unassuming characters and special

tree against the plain stark background. On each page, careful placement and

positions of the characters show the close tender respect that father and son

have. Warm neutral colors help transport the reader to the arid Middle East

lands thousand years ago. Ibatoulline renders each detailed figure or object

expertly but they appear as flat cutouts on their simple neutral backgrounds.

Acrylic paint medium has that effect in paintings. By this choice of medium,

Ibatoulline puts extra focus on the cutout subjects. Painted sparse greenery is

as scarce and precious as the large resin tear. Red, blue, and green colors are

used only as the future myrrh bearers are introduced. How peaceful and calm

is the last painted page in shades of blues. The back cover concludes with

the father’s protective arms around his son – a job well done!

Linda Sue Park includes an Author’s Note which provides more

information about myrrh and the Nativity Story.

Age 8-12 year olds.

Recommended by Cecile Wong, Librarian (retired) Maryland USA

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