Position:Home > Holidays & Celebrations > The True Gift

The True Gift

Press: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (October 1, 2013)
Publication Date:2013-10
Author Name:MacLachlan, Patricia; Floca, Brian;


Experience the magic of authentic giving in this holiday classic from the Newbery Award–winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall.All year long Lily and Liam look forward to the holidays at their grandparents’ farm. 
It’s always the perfect trip: walking to the lilac library, trimming the tree, giving gifts.
But this year, thanks to a white cow alone in the meadow, things will be different.
This holiday, Lily and Liam will find out the meaning of a special gift.
This holiday classic from a beloved author rings in the season by celebrating the joys of family, community, and true giving.


“Newbery Medalist MacLachlan offers a quietly moving Christmas story that illustrates the power of children to change their world…. 
Floca's delicate, full-page pencil illustrations complement the text with understated emotion.” (Kirkus Reviews)“The simple, elegant prose tells a warm family story with a classic holiday theme.
Floca’s graphite and ebony pencil drawings are lush with evocative detail and perfectly complement this lovely offering.” (School Library Journal)“With MacLachlan's well-drawn characters and Floca's simple pencil and graphite drawings, it's a poignant story with a classic feel.” (Publishers Weekly)

About the Author

Patricia MacLachlan is the author of many well-loved novels and picture books, including Sarah, Plain and Tall, winner of the Newbery Medal; its sequels, Skylark and Caleb’s Story; Edward’s Eyes; The True Gift; Waiting for the Magic; White Fur Flying; and Fly Away. 
She lives in western Massachusetts.Brian Floca is the author and illustrator of Locomotive, winner of the 2013 Caldecott Medal; Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, a Robert F.
Sibert Honor Book and a New York Times Best Illustrated Book; Lightship, also a Sibert Honor Book; and Racecar Alphabet, an ALA Notable Children’s Book.
He has illustrated Avi’s Poppy Stories, Kate Messner’s Marty McGuire novels, and Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan’s Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring, a Sibert Honor Book and winner of the Orbis Pictus Award.
You can visit him online at BrianFloca.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One 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.
I burst out laughing.
“Don’t worry, Lily.
There is the stone library if you run out.” Liam runs out of books all the time.
Sometimes he reads three chapter books in one day.
I smile.
We love that stone library, our second home at Grandpa and Gran’s farm.
“The lilac library,” Liam says.
It’s true.
No matter what time of year—winter or summer or fall or spring—that library smells like lilacs.
Liam takes a book out of the bag at his feet.
I smile.
I am three years older than Liam, and I have a sudden sweet memory of teaching him how to read.
He was four years old and he grinned for two weeks when he figured out the mystery of words.
“We’ll have snow,” says Papa, looking up at the sky.
Liam and I laugh, and Mama laughs too.
We call Papa the Weather Man.
And suddenly, as if his words bring it on, snow begins to fall; flakes one by one, slowly at first, then harder.
Papa turns on the windshield wipers, and we watch the back-and-forthing of them.
“I hope the library stays open if it snows,” says Liam.
“That library is always open,” says Mama.
“That library has been open ever since I was a little girl.” We turn into the long dirt driveway to Grandpa and Gran’s house, past the meadow where White Cow turns her head to watch us go by.
“Where’s Rosie?” asks Liam.
“Where’s the donkey?” “Don’t know,” says Mama.
“Can’t see her.” The snow is coming harder now and is beginning to stick to the road.
It is almost dusk.
“Did you bring your money?” asks Liam.
I nod.
We have worked weekends and after school to earn money for Christmas presents.
I babysat for the three Cooper children across the street.
Liam and I both mowed lawns and shoveled snow when it came.
Once he painted a shed.
There are only two stores in Gran and Grandpa’s small town.
But that is enough for us to buy presents for everyone.
Liam holds up a red sock with a gray stripe.
It is fat with his money.
I smile.
The car passes the barn and pulls up to the front porch of the big white house.
There are Christmas lights in every window.
Gran and Grandpa come out to wave.
Their terriers, Emmet and Charlie, bark fiercely at us, then race down the porch steps happily for jumping and licking.
Snow falls harder.
We’re here! © 2009 Patricia MacLachlan

From AudioFile

There have been Christmas stories about dogs, cats, camels, donkeys, and reindeer. 
It's about time cows got equal time.
Newbery Medalist MacLachlan (for SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL) tells a contemporary story about a brother and sister who react with compassion to a patient white cow who is all alone in their grandparents' meadow.
Aya Cash's gentle voice pulls listeners into this engaging tale of the kids' efforts to hook the cow up with a bovine companion after Liam learns from his reading that cows don't enjoy solitary living.
Cash's warm storyteller's voice brings the serious Liam and his cynical older sister, Lily, to life as the siblings become convinced that the best present of all isn't something you get, but something you give.
© AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Children's Books,Holidays & Celebrations,Christmas,Animals,Farm Animals,Growing Up & Facts of Life,Family Life,Siblings

 PDF Download And Online Read: The True Gift

Comment List (Total:15)

  •     We have read it every year at Christmas for years. This author's voice and the rhythm of the story are so wonderful. It is a heartwarming easy chapter book. Read alone 1st-second grade, but we read it together now even though my kids are way beyond this level. Great sketches in the book too! The message of no one should be alone at Christmas and the lengths the kids go to that ensure this are quite special. I give one away every year too.

  •     Our family's love of animals and living rural relocated us to the country, so needless to say we love animals, especially cows.

  •     It is a very small book and I was expecting a larger one for children. Took forever to get it in the mail.

  •     This was a very sweet story about days past. Even as an adult I enjoyed it.

  •     i would say that this a very good book i first read it at my school libary holly gove elementry schooli am in 5th grade

  •     Patricia MacLachlan is far and above one of my favorite writers. Her writing style is the true gift of this story.

  •     Lily and Liam go to their grandparents' farm every Christmas vacation. They look forward to it all year. But this year there is something different.

  •     Good book for young readers.Would be good for a stocking stuffer,or to be read to the children on Christmas eve

  •     This latest book from the author of "Sarah Plain and Tall" is, in a word, wonderful.A 30 minute read, "The True Gift" is a short chapter book about a kind-hearted boy whose heart for animals impacts his sister, his family, and eventually an entire town. Compassion, kindness, love, and doing the right thing for others (both animals and people) are the themes of this gentle, beautiful book. (Even thinking about the story while I write this review is getting me a little teary!!!)I won't include any spoilers here, but will just say that this is a highly, highly recommended family Christmas tale. While it will be marketed as a children's book (and would be lovely to share at bedtime with your children), "The True Gift" is now this 41-year old woman's favorite book, bar none.Thank you, Patricia MacLachlan! And Merry Christmas!

  •     I have found a Christmas treasure - - one that is certain to become an annual tradition in my classroom. After reading The True Gift: A Christmas Story, I purchased 4 copies as gifts for my co-teachers. In simple language, Patricia Maclachlan has given a true gift to readers of all ages. Adults and children will relate to the characters, especially the lonely cow. Keep a tissue handy. I highly recommend this title.

  •     A moving (no pun intended here) story for anyone of any age.

  •     Wonderful story for any animal lover. I'm a vegan, so I found this book irresistable. It's a beautiful, simple story about the validity of life, life for all beings. Hooray for those who care for those who cannot fight for themselves! Hooray for Patricia MacLachlan!

  •     We read this book for our 3rd grade Mother/Daughter book club. It was a huge hit. The book's length was perfect and the story accessible to all levels of readers. The illustrations are beautiful. The plot provided our group with a range of topics to discuss.

  •     My 8-year-old nephew loves this book and so do I!

  •     Beautiful book. Super quick shipping.


Children's Books Book PDF @ 2018