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The Third Gift

A boy is learning his father's craft, recognising the trees that release valuable resin and gathering the round drops, which look almost like pearls. Or tears. Today is a proud turning point for the boy. They have found a 'tear' of unusual size, big enough to fill his two hands. And in the marketplace, three strangers have their own surprising reason for wishing to buy the day's harvest. From an award-winning author and illustrator comes a moving tale of ordinary people involved in an extraordinary event providing a window into a time some two thousand years ago. The three wise men, or the three kings, are familiar figures in the Christmas tradition. Linda Sue Park has taken the brief biblical references to the three as the starting point for a new story. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline with exquisite paintings, this book brings new resonance to the well-known gift list of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
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Somewhere in Ibatoulline's ancient, almost-shimmering Arab desert landscape, a boy at his father's side learns the family business of gathering valuable sap, which seeps like tears from certain trees. Neither father nor son realize the greatness of their wares as it is sold to three finely dressed men who add it to gifts of gold and frankincense that they are taking to "a baby." Newbery Medalist Park's lean, well-paced story bridges the ordinary and the sacred to powerful effect. Park's author's note describes her inspiration and includes some background on myrrh. Ages 6-9. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

K-Gr 2-A boy tells of the long walks he takes with his father, who collects pearls of sap from certain trees, a skill he has honed over years. These expensive "tears" are used as medicine and spice, and as incense at funerals-and when three strangers arrive at the marketplace to buy the finest tears "for a baby," readers discover that it is myrrh, one of the gifts to baby Jesus mentioned in Matthew 2:11. The hyperrealistic acryl-gouache illustrations depict the sandy beige hues and nuanced textures of a dry and inhospitable land, contrasting with the smooth skin and rounded cheeks of the young boy and his loving relationship with his father. This gorgeous picture book sheds thoughtful light on a fascinating facet of the Christmas story.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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