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The True Gift: A Christmas Story
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The True Gift: A Christmas Story

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  259 ratings  ·  68 reviews
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 a
ebook, 96 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published September 14th 2009)
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Dec 26, 2011 Kathryn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kathryn by: Abigail A.
A brother and sister go to stay with their grandparents for Christmas, just like always. But, this year, their grandparents' cow, White Cow, is all alone in the field because the donkey who used to graze with her has gone back to her family. Young Liam feels a connection with White Cow and senses that she is lonely and he wants to do something to help her. Even if it means spending less time at the beautiful "Lilac Library" (where the children usually love to go during the Christmas holiday), ev ...more
Well, I kept meaning to read this book since it came out as it is in my library, after all. So at long last, I just sat down during a quiet evening shift and read it cover to cover, enjoying Floca's illustrations nearly as much as MacLachlan's writing.
Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised by the ending but my mushy old heart was truly touched. I had to leave the desk and hide for a while as I have been cursed with one of those complexions that turns deep red and stays red for a long time after
MacLachlan here writes a Christmas story about a brother and sister who find the meaning of Christmas through helping a cow - yup, a cow - lead a less lonely life. MacLachlan is always a dependable writer, and this book is a good selection for kids in grades 3-5 looking for a Christmas story, but there isn't a whole lot of "there" there in this slim little Christmas book.
Linda Lipko
As the sun streamed through the window this morning, I took this book off the shelf and spent delightful time reading another of MacLachlan's lovely books.

This author has a special way of softly unfolding the story. I've read most of the books of this Newbery award winning author and she never fails to disappoint.

Lily and Liam look forward each year to the Pre-Christmas visit to their grandparent's farm. Avid readers, the two love the slow pace of farm life in the winter, of time to read, time t
I did not care for this brief book, which I read aloud to my daughter. The characters, and the brother/sister relationship at the center of the book, did not ring true, and the climactic Christmas Eve surprise seemed very improbable. (I have no particular fondness for cows, which probably removes me from the intended audience for this book.)
Patricia MacLachlan's soft, endlessly gentle writing style has always seemed to be the perfect potential vehicle by which to tell a Christmas tale. After decades of producing some of the most enduring classics of our time in the realms of both picture books and chapter books, Patricia MacLachlan has given us just such a holiday story.

Liam is a wonder. He views the word around him with the eyes of a true artist, gauging the depths of the feelings of those he comes in contact with and allowing h
When Lily and Liam go to stay with their grandparents during the week leading up to Christmas, Liam becomes troubled by the presence of White Cow. She is alone in the paddock. Does she get lonely? Is she sad? He feels that she must be, and therefore, he wants to find her a friend. They don't have a lot of money, but when a family advertises that they want to sell their calf, Liam knows that is the friend for White Cow. So, he sells all his books to the used book store to gain the extra money the ...more
I can't remember the last time a children's book made me cry. I know it has happened, but not for a while. Until I read this book. Had I not been at work when I was reading it, I would have had tears streaming down my face. In a good way, of course.

Lily and Liam are staying with their grandparents for Christmas, as they do every year. This year, when they arrive they discover that the donkey that used to live in the barn with White Cow has moved to another farm, leaving White Cow all alone. Liam
Blake Petit
Everybody who crafts a Christmas story wants it to be the next classic. I'm not sure if this book quite reaches that status, but it is good. "The True Gift" is the story of a brother and sister who are sent for a Christmas vacation on their grandparents' farm. The younger of the two, Liam, is heartbroken when he realizes the farm's single cow, White Cow, is lonely. So he sets out to change that. The story is very quick, it can probably be read to a child in a single bedtime reading session. The ...more
Jan 11, 2010 Marcia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: grades 1-3
I admire MacLachlan's ability to really use language carefully to craft a story. This is a sweet and simple tale of a boy who wants to help a lonely cow. While visiting his grandparents farm for their annual pre-Chirstmas visit, Lily and Liam notice that the white cow is without his companion the donkey. Liam sets out to find a friend for him, by placing notices all around town which results in a wonderful conclusion.
The one disconnect I had was that the story is so sweet and old-fashioned I th
Ok, so it's sentimental and a little contrived, but I admit I got that warm fuzzy feeling from this simple story. Two remarkably literate kids spend the weeks leading up to Christmas with their grandparents - Liam, the younger brother, decides that the White Cow on their grandparents' farm is lonely and sets out to find her a friend. Of course, everything works out wonderfully and there's even a little surprise at the end. The kids have their moments of normality and authenticity that save them ...more
I expected more from Patricia MacLachlan. Like many of her stories, this one is set on a farm. Liam and his sister are spending time at their grandparents for Christmas and when Liam decides that the lone white cow is lonely, he sets out to fit it a friend. The story is extremely short, and the writing seems short and choppy. Finding a friend for a cow just was a tad bit too boring for me. But students wanting a quick, tender story to read might enjoy it.
I've enjoyed this author in a couple other children's novels. This one struck me as contrived. What boy carries dozens of books to grandma's farm at Christmas, then sells them to make sure a cow has company for the holiday? Maybe if there had been some fantastic bits here and there: talking cow, fairy milkmaid, angels in the barn? Maybe then I'd have read it to my boys. Didn't ring true nor having much to do with Christmas.
I think this is one of those books that will become more loved the more times it's read. I liked it this first time around, but I'm excited to read it to my children in a couple of years because I think I will grow to love it. It just had a timeless, classic feel to it.

And really, isn't there something so endearing about a lonely cow on a farm at Christmastime? You have to admit there is.
I thought I wouldn't like this, the cow on the cover didn't interest me much, but I did. It is a short, plain story just like Sarah, Plain and Tall, but it is amazing because MacLachlan uses each and every word on the page purposefully to create a lilting rythm that is a pleasure to read and to listen too. It is like a lullabye or poetry. And of course, my kids loved the sweet story!
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I just read this with my daughter for our mom and daughter book club and it is a quick read but well worth the time. It is a simple book and easy to understand but teaches a big story of what truly is important...true gifts...things that mean a lot to someone and that will touch someones lives for the better. I loved that this lesson was taught by children.
While it has an okay and uplifting story line for kids, I thought it was poorly written. Not as good as you would expect from an author that was previously a recipient of the Newbery Medal. I wouldn't recommend reading, as I think there are much better books for young kids. It is a quick read... it has 81 pages, but I read it in about 10 minutes.
Mary Anne
This was a little silly. Some children think their grandparents cow was lonely so they pool thier Christmas money to buy another cow.
The all the neighbors bring their cows by so the cow doesn;t have to be alone on Christmas?

The only good thing is that the kids really like books but their love for books is so over written it seems fake.

Aw, White Cow! I guess I don't get Patricia MacLachlan's thought processes (SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL was also a little beyond me), because I didn't 100% get the narrator's...weird...reservations about all these different things. But the ending was heartwarming and that's mostly what I was looking for in a Christmas book this year.
I'm a sucker for a good tear-jerker, especially when it's by Patricia MacLachlan.

A small boy wants to give a big white cow a gift for Christmas--a friend. What starts as a wish grows to encompass not just a few people, but an entire small town. A must-read for this holiday season (and a quick read as well)!
A brother and sister spend Christmas with their grandparents. The grandparent's white cow is lonely, but no one seems to notice except Liam. Let's just say Liam gave White Cow a true gift. It's a quick read but a good one. Very appropriate for young readers.
This is a quick read and a sweet Christmas story. Is it true that cows have feelings and are capable of grief, loss, and loneliness? I had no idea! I recommend this for all fans of Patricia MacLachlan and anyone looking for a sweet Christmas story set on a farm.
Mary S.
Delightful and whimsical read with a different slant to Christmas gift giving. Touches on the lonliness of this season mixed with humor since cows are the lonely ones. Touches on humans desire to help others and to reach out to others needs.
Charming but low-key Christmas story of a boy's efforts to find friends for the lone cow left at his grandparents' farm. He and his sister are able to pool their money to buy a calf, but it's what happens Christmas Eve that's delightful.
Rosa & I enjoyed this one together. A brother and sister were trying to find a friend for the cow on their grandparents' farm because they thought he was only. The gift they find at the end of the story is really cool!
YES YES YES 6 star book
my Mom and i promised we wouldn't get gifts for one another this year.
then i read The True Gift.
fortunately Mom doesn't use the computer so she won't know i'm getting this for her.
The illustrations in this book were sweet, and the story was enjoyable. One of the main characters is somewhat annoying, but the story is good enough to make it a solid pick for kids around Christmas.
Marguarite Markley
What a beautiful Christmas story about the meaning of giving a gift! What I really liked about this story is how the children figure it all out themselves. Quick, easy read. Perfect for the whole family!
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Patricia MacLachlan is a bestselling U.S. children's author, best known for winning the 1986 Newbery Medal for her book Sarah, Plain and Tall.

For more information, please see
More about Patricia MacLachlan...
Sarah, Plain and Tall (Sarah, Plain and Tall, #1) Skylark (Sarah, Plain and Tall #2) Waiting for the Magic Caleb's Story (Sarah, Plain and Tall #3) All the Places to Love

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