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*The Gifts* by Regina Fackelmayer, illustrated by Christa Unzer
The Gifts
by Regina Fackelmayer, illustrated by Christa Unzer
Ages 4-8 32 pages NorthSouth October 2009 Hardcover    

In all the intoxicating chaos prior to Christmas, the act of giving can get lost in all the hustle, bustle, and general holiday mayhem. Marketplaces are crowded to the brim with busy shoppers, most bargain-hunting for that perfect present that would get the next name crossed off their shopping list. In the act of giving, many are unable to widen their gaze to the little things going on around them as well.

Mia excitedly weaves her way through the focused shoppers. She has braved the crowded marketplace — people are buying everything under the sun this holiday — to get a perfect little Christmas tree, the final item she wants for her Christmas decorating and celebrating.

As she trudges home through the falling snow, tree and baskets in hand, an old man stumbles in front of her. All his possessions strew about the ground in a big mess. The snow falls thicker and faster, and Mia knows that without help, his things will soon be buried. She quickly puts her own items down and gives him her time and help.

Near home, another person needs her assistance, a little boy who has lost something given him by his grandfather. Mia hates to see a sad face on Christmas, and he needs to get home soon. Though Mia can't duplicate the grandfather’s gift, she does her best to provide a replacement with what she has.

Home at laswt, Mia realizes her loss. Somewhere between the marketplace and home, between helping the old man and meeting the little boy, Mia has lost her tree. Disappointed but resigning herself to her Christmas fate, Mia nestles in with her animals for the evening. But Mia’s gifts of giving have made a nice Christmas after all, and an unexpected knock at the door makes the spirit of Christmas shine brighter.

It's been a long time since such a fabulous children’s Christmas book has blessed the seasonal shelves. Simplicity is key to Fackelmayer’s story and message: building the spirit of Christmas by simply giving and keeping the holiday simple. This story is a delightful way to help children learn how to build the spirit of Christmas and enjoy the spirit of the holiday beyond the toy aisles.

Illustrator Christa Unzer's charming illustrations take the story to greater heights. The combined talents of these two women make The Gifts a truly delightful treasure of a children’s book.

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  Sonia R. Polinsky/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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