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What Is Given from the Heart

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  876 ratings  ·  233 reviews
This final picture book from author Patricia McKissack is a celebration of the joy of giving.

"Misery loves company," Mama says to James Otis. It's been a rough couple of months for them, but Mama says as long as they have their health and strength, they're blessed. One Sunday before Valentine's Day, Reverend Dennis makes an announcement during the service-- the Temples ha
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by Schwartz & Wade Books
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Average rating 4.46  · 
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 ·  876 ratings  ·  233 reviews

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La Coccinelle
Feb 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: children
I was almost put off at the very beginning. Taking a page from Disney, the narrator's father "goes to sleep" on the porch and never wakes up, leaving his wife and son destitute. Because of this rather traumatizing beginning, I'd be hesitant to give the book to very young children.

But, as I kept reading, the story grew on me. I wasn't a fan of the colloquial language, and not because of the vernacular; it just didn't seem all that consistent. The story itself, though, is pretty good. James Otis a
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Children's Stories Exploring Poverty That Feature Love, Generosity & Creativity
James Otis and his mother are experiencing a difficult time in this lovely, heartwarming picture-book from author Patricia C. McKissack and illustrator April Harrison. James Otis' father has recently died, they have lost their farm, and have been forced to move into one of the "shotgun houses" in the Bottoms. Nevertheless, when they hear about the troubles of the Temple family, who have lost everything they own in a fire, they make their best effort to contribute to their church's "love box" for ...more
Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for an advance look. Such a stunningly beautiful book, the sentiment, and story is powerful and the illustrations are rich and unique.
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: diverse-lit
Not only is this book beautifully illustrated, but it also tells a beautiful story. Our main characters, a young African American boy named James and his mom, are going through rough times and they cannot seem to catch a break. This does not mean their attitudes are poor though. In fact, it is just the opposite! The characters remain positive and are happy for the things they do have. They have an opportunity to help a family in need and they want to give something special. Although they have ve ...more
Laura Harrison
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
The illustrations are wonderful.
Sydney Holt
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This lovely book tells the story of a little boy named James Otis, who, along with his mother, is enduring hard times since the death of his dad and loss of their farm. They now live in a run-down house with few possessions. But Mama tries to remain upbeat:

“‘Long as we have our health and strength, we are blessed, James Otis,’ Mama said, tryin’ to sound brave.”

Two weeks before Valentine’s Day, the reverend at their church announced:

“Just as we always do, we’ll be delivering love boxes to needy f
First sentence: It was a rough few months for Mama and me. We were already poor, but we got poorer last April, when Daddy went to sleep on the front porch and never woke up. Mama cried and cried, 'cause Daddy didn't have a suit to be buried in.

Premise/plot: The Temple family has lost everything in a fire. The church community is coming together and asking everyone to give something, to give from the heart. James Otis is stumped, especially at first. What can he give of value? He doesn't have any
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the sweetest, most beautifully illustrated children’s books I’ve encountered in awhile. I’m familiar with the award winning author, Patricia C McKissack, so I knew the story would be good. This is April Harrison’s first picture book. She’s a fine artist and designer who’s been featured in museums and galleries. She gorgeously combines collage and drawing and the faces of her characters are so beautifully expressive! The story is from the point of view of young James Otis, who live ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Sarah and her family have lost everything in a fire. What can James Otis give her to help her?

This is a story about giving and helping others even when you are destitute yourself, and the power of that. It's a worthy final book from an amazing author.
Heather Jensen
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful tale of the healing power of giving and sharing of your own talents.
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Teaching children generosity and creativity will always produce something wonderful.
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful story about a family who have nothing since the father died, try to find something of theirs to share with a family whose home has been lost in a fire.
A beautiful story, both told and illustrated, reminding us that many who have very little themselves are often the most generous. This is the authors last book before her death.
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A beautiful statement on how generosity is more about the giver than the recipient.
A fire destroys their home but the little boy learns that possessions don't have as much value as what comes from the heart. ...more
This 2020 winner of the John Steptoe New Talent Award for Illustrator has wonderful illustrations. A story of giving, even when you have little to give, is a perfect title for this start, for me, of the end-of-year holiday season. A boy learns what it means to give "from the heart" and gets to see how much his small, but special, gift means to a frightened little girl. ...more
The illustrations are gorgeous and the message is a timeless one that we all need to hear over and over again. I am ordering this for our family library.
Zack Barnes
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted at A to Z Book Reviews

What is Given from the Heart is a tale of compassion. James Otis and his mom have struggled ever since James’ father died a few months back. It was a struggle before his death, and now they’ve struggled even more. But when someone in their family’s church has a house fire, their Pastor asks the congregation to bring anything that they can to help the family. “What is given from the heart reaches the heart,” he tells the church.

What can James give to the li
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
James Otis and his mother don't have much; his father died and they are struggling. But when a family loses their home to fire, the church that they attend decide to do a "love box" for the family, which are put together for their neediest families. But James Otis and his mother have so little--what could they possibly have to give to this family? A lovely story! The illustrations complemented the text perfectly. They were both simple and detailed at the same time. ...more
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Giving requests
Recommended to June by: Edward Sullivan
James and his mother have fallen on hard times since his father's death. However, when another family loses everything in a fire his mother is determined that they donate something for their love box. James has a hard time thinking of something he has that a little girl would want. He discovers the joy of giving and receiving. ...more
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful in every way! McKissack's simple yet lyrical prose touched my heart and April Harrison's collage illustrations are superb. A wonderful reminder of what is most important in life.

Read in galley and I'm eager to buy the finished copy.
Edward Sullivan
Pat McKissack's last book, a poignant story of compassion beautifully illustrated. ...more
Cindy Dobrez
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
A beautiful book in every possible way. Would it be wrong to buy an extra copy just so I could frame and hang some of the art?
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Begins like Finding Nemo. I mean, come on! That’s tragic! How can you just get past that!?!

Still crying over Nemo’s lost siblings. Numb since 2003. Can’t take any more trauma.
Richie Partington
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks
Richie’s Picks: WHAT IS GIVEN FROM THE HEART by Patricia C. McKissack and April Harrison, ill., Schwartz & Wade, January 2019, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-375-83615-2

“I don’t know how you keep on giving
For your kindness I’m in debt to you”
-- Natalie Merchant, “Kind and Generous” (1998)

“It was a rough few months for Mama and me. We were already poor, but we got poorer last April, when Daddy went to sleep on the front porch and never woke up. Mama cried and cried, ‘cause Daddy didn’t have a suit to be burie
Julie Baker
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: multicultural
What is Given from the Heart
Text to text
This book reminds me of all the children’s books that are celebrating friendships, appreciation and reciprocity. One example is Pete the Cat and Valentine’s Day is Cool by James and Kimberly Dean. Pete decides to make homemade cards for all the important people in his life, but he forgot to one for his good friend Callie. Although, Callie’s responded with, “hanging out with you is way better than any card”. The point is he made cards from the heart for al
Rosalind Ferguson
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Justification: Free choice
This was awarded the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Illustrator Award for New Talent, and the theme of a mother and son wanting to help another hurting family appealed to me.

The mixed media used for the illustrations include acrylics, art pens, collage and found objects, such as matchstick pieces used for the broom and cotton fabric swatches used for the "love box." The effect is profoundly warm and intimate, reflecting the story line of resourcefulness and
Christina Carter
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
James Otis has very little but when a family in his community loses everything in a fire, he learns that a gift from the heart has value beyond measure, that "what is given from the heart reaches the heart." He and his mother use what they have, giving out of their own need, to turn around and be a blessing to others. May it be true of us, whether in a season of abundance or lack, that we would give from our hearts to those who have need.

I found this treasure on display at my local public librar
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
After his father died, James Otis and his mother got even more poor than before. They lost their farm and had to move into a small house in the Bottoms. Things kept getting worse as his dog disappeared and everything flooded. Christmas was sparse but they made their way through until spring. That’s when their church gave out love boxes to those in need. This year, one family had lost everything in a fire. James Otis was encouraged to give something to the little girl in the family, but what coul ...more
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Patricia C. McKissack was the Newbery Honor, Coretta Scott King Award-winning author of The Dark-Thirty and Porch Lies an ALA Notable Book. She collaborated with Jerry Pinkney on Goin' Someplace Special (Coretta Scott King Award winner) and Mirandy and Brother Wind (Coretta Scott King Award winner and Caldecott Honor Book). ...more

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