Even though the December Holidays have been packed away, I discovered a beautiful gem that I want to share with readers.
Linda Sue Park, Newbery Award winning author of A Single Shard, has written a wonderful new picture book—The Third Gift. The book is beautifully illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline.
The story begins with a young boy learning his Father’s craft—he collects tears. His Father’s craft is to recognize the trees that release valuable resin. Together they gather the round drops, pearls of sap that seep out of a tree when the bark is cut. Sometimes the boy and his Father have to walk a long way to find good trees but his Father is able to see “inside” each tree, some are good—some are not—if not good they have to continue on. Father knows exactly how to cut the tree. If Father has chosen well a tear will emerge and form a big tear. The outside of the tear will dry in the hot sun. These tears are large and contain a treasure of resin. The tears are then sold to the spice merchant in the marketplace. The tears are used for many things.
On this particular trip, one of the trees forms a tear the size of a hen’s egg. A few weeks later, father and son take their tears to the marketplace. The spice merchant has been waiting for them – the merchant has customers who want to buy a special gift. The boy’s tear is selected. The three men have a gift of gold, a gift of frankincense and now they will add a gift of myrrh. The boy wants to know who the gifts are for. One of the three merchants says the gifts are for a baby and the boy is proud that he harvested part of the gift. The three men mount their camels and ride into the desert while the boy wonders about the baby.
The last full page drawing shows the three merchants riding up to a small stable where the new born baby waits.
The story and paintings are absolutely beautiful. I have read this story several times and each reading merits studying the detailed artwork. What a gem—read this soon but also tuck it away for next December.
Also included are Bible references and historical information about the magi and myrrh.
The Third Gift