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What Is Given from the Heart.

by Patricia C. McKissack

Publishers Weekly James Otis and his mother don't have much. Daddy died last April-he didn't even "have a suit to be buried in" -the family farm is gone, and the two of them now live in a "run-down shotgun house" that floods when it rains. But when their pastor asks the congregation to help a family who lost everything in a fire, Mama does her part, sewing an apron made from her cherished white tablecloth, and she expects James to find "a li'l bit of something" for the girl, Sarah. "What is given from the heart reaches the heart," Mama says, echoing the pastor's words. After much thought, James Otis creates a book for and about Sarah herself-a gift the girl presses to her heart. This final book by the late McKissack (Let's Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout) showcases the legendary author's signature lyricism in full force and receives a stunning, aesthetically ambitious interpretation by Harrison, a fine artist making her picture book debut. Flattened perspectives lend her characters quiet stature and communal strength, and elaborately textured colors exude translucence and light, almost as if these mixed-media images were created from stained glass. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. (Jan.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list In the months following the death of his father, life is hard for young James Otis and Mama. Still, when Reverend Dennis requests donations for a family that has lost everything to fire, Mama is the first to respond, sewing an apron from her best tablecloth. James Otis has a harder time deciding what to give, but finally settles on an illustrated book of his own creation. This posthumous offering from award winner McKissack (Who Will Bell the Cat?, 2018) recounts a heartfelt story demonstrating that joyful giving can have many rewards. Harrison's mixed-media and collage artwork portrays a close-knit, African American community, where fancy possessions are in short supply, but love and caring abound. Using folk-style illustrations and favoring earth tones, Harrison utilizes mottled backgrounds and colorfully collaged pieces to depict the characters' clothing. The faces are particularly expressive, conveying a full range of emotions. Appropriate for one-on-one sharing and story hours alike, this is a moving story that attests to life's most important values.--Kay Weisman Copyright 2018 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Kirkus A boy who has little learns that he can still give. James Otis and his mama have fallen on hard times. His father died, and they had no suit in which to bury him; they lost their farm, their new "run-down shotgun house in the Bottoms" flooded, and his dog ran away. Though they have very little, his mama says, "Long as we have our health and strength, we are blessed." As Valentine's Day approaches, their pastor announces that "love boxes" will be delivered to the needy in the community, including a mother and daughter who have lost everything in a fire. He reminds them that "what is given from the heart reaches the heart." Mama gets right to work sewing her best tablecloththe one nice thing she ownsinto an apron that she hopes will please the mother, Irene. But James Otis can't think of anything he has that the little girl would want. Finally, he comes up with a plan, and what he gives from the heart, little Sarah cherishes. Debut illustrator Harrison's heartfelt mixed-media illustrations, which include collage, acrylic, and found objects, emphasize the closeness between James Otis and his mother. The full faces of the characters and the muted palette and spare backgrounds reflect the dignity and joy to be found within black culture and community life even in lean times.A sweet story, one of the legendary McKissack's last, enhanced by delectable art from a prodigious new talent. (Picture book. 4-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal K-Gr 3-Although he and his mama are poor, James Otis struggles to find something he can give the Temple family, who have lost everything in a fire. After his daddy dies suddenly, the boy and his mom lose their farm and move into a "run-down shotgun house." A flood further adds to their misery. Yet when Reverend Dennis announces the congregation will deliver "love boxes" to needy families for Valentine's Day, the boy and his mother decide to provide gifts for the Temples. "Stitchin' with a loving heart," mama turns her one treasure, a tablecloth, into an apron for Mrs. Temple. Considering several of his possessions unsuitable, James Otis finally decides to make a book for Sarah Temple. The delighted Temples receive their box with the congregation looking on. Their hearts filled with joy at having given to others, James Otis and mama return home to discover a love box has been delivered to them. Textured backgrounds that bleed to the edges and often include spreads form the backdrop for the folk-art illustrations rendered in mixed media and found objects. All the figures are elongated, and the brightest colors appear in a striking scene of the close-knit African American community walking to church dressed in their Sunday best. There are depictions of the modest neighborhood and touching close-ups of the boy and his mom in loving embrace and Sarah clutching her treasured book to her chest. VERDICT This story of the joy of giving despite one's own needs is a must-have for group discussions of empathy. A treasure from a marvelous storyteller.-Marianne Saccardi, Children's Literature Consultant, Cambridge, MA Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book In this story of giving, James Otis marvels that Mama is contributing to the church's "love box" for a family in need when they have so little themselves. But hearing "what is given from the heart reaches the heart" helps James Otis start thinking differently about what he does have. Detailed, highly textured, strikingly patterned collage illustrations invite readers to linger over the pages and add depth to the characters. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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