Thursday, January 12, 2012

Gifts from the Heart

Kids use their imaginations to create and play in wonderful worlds. It’s no different in Victoria Osteen’s Gifts from the Heart. The story, written in rhyming verse, starts in a playroom with a brother and sister—Jon and Sue—dressing up in medieval clothes and pretending to be a prince and a princess. They “travel” to a town full of hustle and bustle. The people have been invited to a celebration for the king, and each wants to present the king with his or her best gift. Soon the children come across a sad young girl named Mary Anne. She has nothing to give the king, and neither do a handful of other children. The only thing the kids have to work with is their talents. Mary Anne can sing, another child can draw, another can juggle, and another works with puppets. Jon and Sue encourage the group to work together to build a stage and present the king with the gift of their talents—music, song, and so on.

The king’s herald scoffs at their efforts and tries to shoo them off. But then the king passes by and notices their efforts. The kids put on their show, and the king is pleased. Toward the end of the tale, the king talks to Mary Anne. “The king reached down and took her hand and said, “You’re very sweet./ Each one of you gave from your heart and made this day complete.”

Mary Anne replies with humility and joy: “We so wanted to honor you, she said bowing her head./ We could not buy you fancy gifts, so we did this instead!”

The story ends with a Kingdom Thoughts for the reader. These short quips are likewise written in rhyme, and meant to clarify lessons from the story. For example, “You may not wear a royal crown/ but you are royalty deep down.” Or “Always listen to what’s in your heart./ Then you’ll know just where to start.”

The author also includes a Bible verse (Proverbs 18:16), a personal note to the reader, and royal question and answers to help facilitate discussion on the theme of using our talents to honor God. (For example: What gifts do you have to share with the world? How can you share them?) The book is illustrated by Diane Palmisciano. She provides appealing, whimsical images full of motion.

What I Like: I think this story has a great lesson for kids: We can offer God the gift of our talents… whatever quirky thing that might be. I especially like the royal question and answer section because it provides a way for parents to discuss the story with their children on a whole different level. The author also included a fun suggestion. In the book, the kids start in a playroom. Several items from the playroom are then hidden in pictures throughout the story. Readers can hunt for those playthings on each page!

What I Dislike: The meter is off in several places, making it sometimes awkward to read aloud. I also thought the beginning of the story was too abrupt. At first I didn’t realize the kids were playing because Sue simply announced that she was a princess. I would have appreciated a longer set up before the shift to the imaginary world. Also, although I enjoyed the “find these items from the playroom” activity, I would have liked to have that direction before reading the story instead of finding out at the end.

Overall Rating: Excellent idea, excellent Q & A, good story execution. Overall rating of Very Good.

Age Appeal: None is given, but I'd recommend the K-1 crowd.

Publisher Info: Little Simon Inspirations; 2010; ISBN: 978-1416955511; Hardback, 32 pgs., $16.99

Buy it Now at for $12.99
OR Buy it at for $13.25.

Special Info: Visit Osteen’s website. Read a CCBR review of other books by Victoria Osteen.

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1 comment:

Mike McQueen said...

Thanks for this book review.

Greek Books for your children.
Mike @ Glottogon