'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Review: The Third Gift

A young boy is learning his father’s craft – how to harvest the precious myrrh resin that is sold to create valuable  medicines, perfumes and embalming oils. On this day, the boy is allowed to harvest the resin pearls and he is excited to find one of unusual size, large enough to fill both hands. At the marketplace, three strangers purchase his special pearl and the boy is curious about who will ultimately receive such a wonderful gift.

Based on a single Biblical reference in the Gospel of Matthew, the image of the three wise men or kings has become one of the familiar elements of the traditional Christmas nativity scene. This beautifully illustrated picture book shares a possible source of the wise men’s gift of myrrh.

It is lovely to read a book that brings such life to the culture and setting of the traditional nativity story. I was unaware of the process involved in harvesting the resin that is used for myrrh and found myself sharing the young boy’s excitement that the results of his hard work were of interest to the travelling wise men, who seemed so exotic to him.

The Third Gift includes a brief explanation of the source and history of the wise men as part of the nativity setting and further information about the harvesting and use of myrrh.

The author’s end note also includes a reminder that we can all be encouraged by stories such as this: “History is happening all around us every day and stories can help remind us that we are as much a part of it as those whose names dominate the headlines.” With the busyness of the Christmas season underway and the focus often on gifts and shopping and getting everything organised, this book is a lovely reminder that we are all significant and have the potential to make a valuable contribution to the world around us. Now that’s a lovely message to share with children at any time of the year.

Title: The Third Gift
Author: Linda Sue Park
Publisher: UQP, $24.95 RRP
Publication Date: 28 November 2011
Format: Hard cover
ISBN: 9780702239304
For ages: 5 - 10
Type: Picture book