Monday, December 5, 2016

MMGM: The True Gift

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick
The True Gift: A Christmas Story,
by Patricia MacLachlan and Brian Floca
The True Gift: A Christmas Story
Written by Patricia MacLachlan
Illustrated by Brian Floca

Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2009
Grades 2-6, 81 pages
6400 words, 480L


       Liam and I sit on the backseat of Papa's old car. The car heater isn't working, so Liam and I share a blanket. We can see our breath in the air.
       "How many books did you bring?" whispers Liam.
       Liam and I share a worry. Our school closes for ten days, and we're going to Grandpa and Gran's house. We always go there in December, waiting for Christmas and Mama and Papa to come Christmas Day. We worry about not taking as many books as we'll need.
       "I brought fifteen books," I say.
       "I brought thirty-seven," says Liam.


Maybe this is more of a chapter book, but the narrator is old enough to be a middle grade character, and the story is so touching and well-written, that it would make a great fireside read for all ages this season.

Lily and Liam go to their grandparents farm like they do every Christmas. When Liam notices the white cow in the field is all alone this year, he gets the idea she must be lonely. And when Liam gets an idea in his head, all his sister can do is hang on for the ride.

As in all MacLachlan's books, the voice is genuine from the first page. She reveals the innermost thoughts of her characters effortlessly through dialogue and actions. Her subtlety is unmatched. I love the ending after the ending in this story, but I warn you, it may bring a tear, or maybe I'm just extremely sentimental. If you are already of fan of Sarah Plain and Tall, then you know there's every reason to give this book a try.

 1. If you enjoyed The True Gift, I recommend any of Patricia's other books, including those reviewed by other MMGMers below.

Sarah, Plain and Tall
Illustrated by Marcia Sewall
Reviewed by Jennifer
White Fur Flying,
Cover art by Amy June Bates?
Reviewed by Mundie Moms
Kindred Souls,
Cover art by Erwin Madrid
Reviewed by Karen
The Truth of Me
Cover Art by Erwin Madrid
Reviewed by Jennifer
Reviewed by Michael

The Poet's Dog, Art by Kenard Pak
Reviewed by Patricia
Reviewed by Rosi
and one of my personal favorites

Journey, Illustrated by Barry Moser
review from Publisher's Weekly

2. Want to know more about Patricia MacLachlan? You can read a Q & A with the author on Publisher's Weekly or listen to an audio interview from Reading Rockets. Harper Collins has provided a video biography below.

3. And if you are very clever, perhaps you can make a White Cow or Brown Cow Christmas ornament using the pattern on Doobie's Doings. The book and ornament together would make a great gift.

cow Christmas ornament courtesy Doobie's Doings

Have you reviewed a Marvelous Middle Grade Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday recommendations for December 5, 2016.

MMGM started way back in 2010 by Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of Lost Cities. Each week, participating bloggers review our favorite books for ages 8-12. Why not join us?


  1. Patricia MacLachlan is one of my favorite MG authors. Don't know how I missed this one as I've read so many. I love to share her intergenerational books. Her books are short, but also meant for older readers. Would be great for reluctant readers. Just reviewed The Poet's Dog. Enjoyed listening to the interview with her and hearing the background behind the books I've read and reviewed.

    1. You've got that exactly right. This book has been shared across generations at my house. We love to read it aloud and I personally love the intergenerational bonds the author portrays.

  2. It's rare that I feel the urge to not just add a book to my TBR pile, but actually go out and get it, but that's how I felt after reading your review. I LOVE Sarah Plain and Tall, and wasn't aware Patricia MacLachlan had written any Christmas books. Thanks so much for the heads up, and happy MMGM!

    1. I am so glad. Please let me know how you liked it, and it makes a great fireside read around the tree. Thanks.

  3. I loved some of Patricia MacLachlan's books, and this one sounds great! Thanks for the review!

    1. Thank-you. I neglected to mention Arthur For The Very First Time and Unclaimed Treasures, two more of her books which have interesting characters and great writing.


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!