Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The True Gift: A Christmas Story

The True Gift: A Christmas Story

Patricia MacLachlan
Illustrator:  Brian Floca 
For ages 7 to 9
Simon and Schuster, 2009   ISBN: 978-1416990819

Every year Lily and Liam go to their grandparent’s farm to spend Christmas. This year, when they drive up to the farm, they notice that the white cow is all alone in her field. Usually a little donkey is in there with her to keep her company, but now the donkey has gone to live elsewhere, and the white cow is by herself.

Lily realizes straight away that she is in trouble. Liam wants to solve the lonely white cow problem, and when Liam takes on a cause, nothing will make him deviate from his purpose. Sure enough, Liam immediately takes on the job of trying to find Lily a cow friend. After all, he insists, cows are social animals, and the white cow cannot possibly be happy living in that field all on her own. Liam announces that they have to buy a cow, and he seems to think that he is going to be able to pull of his crazy plan.

Without consulting anyone, Liam makes poster. He asks people if they have a cow that they would be willing to sell him so that the white cow can have a friend for Christmas. He takes the posters to town and soon they can be found in shop windows and on telephone poles. Though Lily is more than a little annoyed by her little brother’s compulsion to get the white cow a friend, she cannot help being proud of him as well. He is making an effort to do something nice for another living creature.

Then the children hear that there is calf for sale. They visit the farm and learn that the farmer has already sold the calf “for meat” so that the family has “Christmas money.” If the children want to buy the calf, they are going to have to raise two hundred dollars. They are also going to have to persuade the farmer to sell the calf to them instead of selling it to the man who wants to take the calf to market. When the children pool their money they sadly do not have enough. It would appear that they are not going to be able to buy the pretty little calf after all.

This wonderful chapter book beautifully captures the true meaning of the Christmas spirit. It takes readers into a gentle world where a child thinks nothing of making a sacrifice so that he can bring some Christmas cheer into someone else’s life.