Review Policy

Monday, December 20, 2010

MY HOLIDAY PICK! Book Review: The Gift of Nothing (guest post by Maggie)

I'm absolutely in love with this lovely little book! It's message is SO needed during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. So I've made it my first ever holiday pick. And guess who is back to guest blog about it!? Yep, as you can see from the picture, it's Maggie! Because she's the one who informed me of this awesome book. If you remember, a fellow elementary school counselor in my district, Natalie, works with this furry co-counselor at her school. I know - so cool!!! Enjoy her review of The Gift of Nothing. Ruff!

The Gift of Nothing
Author/Illustrator: Patrick McDonnell
Interest Level: All Ages 

About This Book: Mooch the cat desperately wants to find a gift for his friend Earl the dog, but Earl already has everything. "What do you give a guy who has everything?" Mooch wonders. The answer, of course, is nothing! This simple story features characters from Patrick McDonnell's popular comic strip, Mutts, and has the same depth, charm, and heart that he gives to his daily readers. With delightfully spare illustrations and text, this book has all the makings of a longtime classic, perfect for gift-giving all year round. 

Why It's On Maggie's Bookshelf: Psssst. . . I want to let you in on a little secret. Every time Natalie, my colleague, reads The Gift of Nothing she gets a little misty-eyed. She says that it’s just her seasonal allergies acting up again, but she doesn’t fool me. I know her like the back of my furry paw.

“It was a special day,” the book begins, “and Mooch wanted to give his best friend, Earl, a gift.” The story goes on to blossom into a timeless lesson of simple truths, tender moments and priceless love.

We read The Gift of Nothing in most all of our classes. At first, the students chuckled at Mooch’s apparent silliness. They got a kick out of the idea of going shopping for nothing and giving someone a gift-wrapped box filled with “plenty of nothing!” In the end, it was heart-warming to see how easily the students understood the message of the book. In one class, when asked about Mooch’s gift to Earl, one kindergartener raised her hand and answered with a simple: “He gave him love.” I wanted to give that little girl a belly-rub, but Natalie told me that was against school policy and I had to keep my paws to myself. In another class of 4th and 5th graders, the students broke out in applause when they realized Mooch’s gift of nothing was, in fact, the gift of everything.

This time of year, the ideals of the holiday season can get somewhat lost in frenetic consumer marketing pitches, the buzz of holiday shoppers and the stockpiles of store merchandise that may or may not be on sale. Patrick McDonnell’s tale reminds us to stop and reflect on what we think is important during the bustle of the winter holidays. After reading The Gift of Nothing, the students were asked what they thought Mooch had given to Earl as a present on that special day. “Love. . . Kindness. . . Friendship. . . Caring. . . Himself. . . Joy” the students answered. Those kids nailed it! Some of the most priceless gifts anyone can give simply cannot be wrapped-up in a box.

You done good, Patrick McDonnell, and I give you my official “2 PAWS WAY UP!” Your words are sublime and the elegance of your sketches captures our hearts. That “thump-thump” of Earl’s little tail (near the end of the book) speaks volumes!! I think that’s the part of the book that always gets Natalie and, to be quite honest, gets me a little verklempt, too. You are an amazing writer, artist and all-around great guy (I hear you do a lot of great things for my animal peeps.)!

Someone, give this man a good belly-rub! He’s earned it!

Another "Two Paws Up" From Maggie
The amazing Maggie will be back soon for one of her creative reviews of another Patrick McDonnell adorable book called Wag! Check out the website for The Gift of Nothing here. And if you haven't read Maggie's review of Don't Lick The Dog: Making Friends With here. Maggie continues to delight and teach the wonderful children in our school district. She is a wonderful gift to both Natalie and her students.

A Link to This Book and Others You Might Find Helpful:

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