Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The True Gift: A Christmas Story” as Want to Read:
The True Gift: A Christmas Story
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The True Gift: A Christmas Story

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  799 ratings  ·  175 reviews
Liam and Lily are doing all they can to find a friend for White Cow... With help from the community, they have a Christmas they will never forget.
Hardcover, 81 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The True Gift, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The True Gift

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  799 ratings  ·  175 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The True Gift: A Christmas Story
Luisa Knight
Nov 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
Patricia MacLachlan is a wonderful author. I actually didn't like the story, but I finished reading it through to the end because of her great story-telling; she has an incredible knack for sucking you in.

The story: A title like "The True Gift" shouldn't be bestowed on a story that is devoted to a cow. I'm not an animal person to begin with, but having such a strong emphasis on a cow, and making that cow not lonely for Christmas, is pretty ridiculous. I wish it would have been an old man or
Rebekah Morris
Nov 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: christmas
While I really like “Sarah, Plain and Tall,” this book wasn’t as good. I still enjoyed it, but it didn’t rank in my want-to-read-again-each-Christmas stack.
It’s told in first person by one of the main characters, Lily. The focus of this story is on helping a cow not be lonely for Christmas. I know my nephew will enjoy it as he loves any and all animals. There really isn’t much about Christmas except some decorations and talk about getting presents. I did like the idea of the children getting to
Nov 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Patricia MacLachlan is a beautiful writer. I’ll read anything she has written!
Dec 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Animal Lovers Looking for Christmas Novels for Children
When Lily and her younger brother Liam go to stay with their grandparents during the week leading up to Christmas - a yearly tradition in their family - they expect another delightful visit, full of the joy of spending time with loved ones, visiting the local "lilac" library (so named because it always smells of lilacs), decorating the house and tree, and selecting gifts at the local shops. Things don't go quite as planned however, when Liam - sensitive and very stubborn - decides that something ...more
Melanie Mead
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a sweet book but I felt the plot was a bit slow and it just didn't feel like fantastic writing. Having said that, after I read it to my seven year old, she immediately read it again to herself so she must have liked it. I read a lot of children's books but this wasn't one of my favourites.
Jan 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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), ...more
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Liam and his sister Lily spend time with their grandparents at Christmastime every year. They've earned money for presents and brought many books with them to while away the time until Christmas. But something threatens to spoil the holiday. White Cow is alone in the field since her companion donkey has been returned to his own owner. Liam is concerned that she is lonely. Thus begins the heartwarming tale of a Christmas gift that seems impossible. This short book for children is a delightful ...more
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Written in the same style as Sarah, Plain and Tall, which I loved. This, too, is a gentle, warm-hearted story featuring an older sister and her younger brother. Both of the kids are avid readers, and books are a real presence in their lives. The message is more about giving than receiving.
Micaiah Saldaña
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sweet, short Christmas book. Would definitely recommend.
debbicat ☮~Traveling Sister
Oh my goodness this was a nice surprise. I was in the car today and had a bit of a drive. I wanted something holidayish. Clicked on the library app on my phone and did a "browse" of the holiday books being offered. This one came up. I was not familiar with it. BUT....I love me some Patricia (Sarah Plain and Tall) MacLachlan. Yes. I do. So I nabbed it thinking I could not go wrong.

And I didn't. A sweet read. Noticing "White Cow" on the cover also was a hint I would like this little book. White
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Kent District Library
Nov 21, 2019 is currently reading it
Join us for a fun, informal book discussion. This month's selection is The True Gift by Patricia Maclachlan. Discussion will take place at Kent District Library's Rockford Branch, on December 20, 2019 from 1:30-2:30 pm.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lily and Liam are excited to spend yet another Christmas at their grandparents' farm, but this year, when they see that their grandparents' white cow is all alone in the pasture, Liam makes it his mission to ensure that everyone - including the white cow - has a memorable Christmas. This was a simple and sweet Christmas story with its farm setting, its brother-sister team, and its kind story of sacrifice and generosity. While some older readers may not find the children's kind gestures in this ...more
Dec 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: christmas
My girls loved this book. It was a short book but a bit different than I was expecting. It was about a cow not being alone on Christmas. lol
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-with-kids
Not as good as her other books, but the kids liked it.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lovely, heart warming story!
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
I found this slightly underwhelming
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a very beautiful book!:)
Alexis P
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The best little Christmas story to read! So cute and fun and full of love! I highly recommend and super short!
Nov 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.
Dec 27, 2009 added it
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.)
Oct 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: animal
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Now that our girls are a year older and a year more used to listening to chapter book read alouds, I thought I'd try some Christmas novels this season, to go along with all of the holiday picture books that we love to read (you can find my 2018 list here and my 2019 list here!). Since I always try to preread as many chapter books as I can (I am pretty particular when it comes to characters' language and attitudes... My girls don't need any more models of things we won't want to see!), I got my ...more
The Dusty Jacket
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lily and Liam are off to Grandpa and Gran’s farm for Christmas. They always go in December and then wait for Mama and Papa to join them on Christmas Day. Lily likes the sameness that this time of year brings: the walks into town, the trip to the lilac library, and helping Gran make cookies. But when her brother spots a white cow standing alone in a snowy meadow, Lily’s predictable holiday is suddenly threatened. “Do we know if she’s lonely?” Liam asks his sister. “She’s a cow,” replies Lily. “ ...more
Lora Reed
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another special and delightful book by Patricia MacLachlan! I love her books! I love her style and the deep feeling invoked by her words and the personalities she brings to her stories. Her books are short and large type and double spaced and it always amazes me how she can get such a delightful, meaningful, story that stays with you and delights the soul from such a short venue.

This is a Christmas story that I will read every year and that I am going to share with my grandchildren. This story
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful story, poignant and heartwarming. I liked the character journeys, and I thought the siblings and grandmother were surprisingly well-developed for so short a story. I also liked the realism; this story lacks so many cliches that abound in Christmas literature. Here, there are no outlandishly tragic circumstances, no misers-turned-saint, no dead parents, and no miracles. And yet, despite this, all the beauty and heartache of the holidays is captured in this straightforward and ...more
Marisa Maloney
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
The girls and I listened to this book on hoopla. I had seen it on lots of audio book Christmas read lists. I love Patricia Maclachlan books and knew it would be a good fit! A great Christmas story about the joy of giving and thinking of others ( or a cow in this case) more at Christmas time . I love that there is a reading element or love of reading in this story. A great short story for the season
Maria Antonia
Dec 23, 2018 rated it liked it
A sweet story about a brother and sister who are staying with their grandparents over Christmas. Liam feels like White Cow could use a friend, and so he goes out to find her one.

I really liked how the siblings worked together on Liam’s project. While I don’t think this book quite match the magic of MacLauchlan’s Sarah Plain and Tall books, it does stand as a nice and enjoyable Christmas story.
Kelly Gesker
Sweet but no filling. Obviously the kids are going through something. Plus it helps if one is a vegetarian and independently wealthy. Ba humbug. (I like this writer for her use of smaller words so younger readers can read can complete a chapter book that appeals to all ages by sounding out the words)
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
My youngest and I read this slim novela in a single sitting; we just couldn't stop reading. The story may be slight and the language spare, but the actions of the two determined and empathetic children leave an impact as they share a true gift, one that can receive no return. It's a lovely holiday read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Nancy and Plum
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (The Herdmans #1)
  • The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas (Austin Family, #2.5)
  • The Family Under the Bridge
  • Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree
  • The Bears on Hemlock Mountain
  • The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale, with Bonus Cookie Recipe and Pattern for St. Nicholas Christmas Cookies (25th Anniversary Edition)
  • The Little Fir Tree
  • Squanto, Friend Of The Pilgrims
  • The Story of Holly and Ivy
  • Great Joy
  • Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories
  • Project: Genius
  • A Boy Called Christmas (Christmas, #1)
  • Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas
  • The Princess in Black and the Bathtime Battle
  • A Slip of a Girl
  • The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story
See similar books…
Patricia MacLachlan was born on the prairie, and to this day carries a small bag of prairie dirt with her wherever she goes to remind her of what she knew first. She is the author of many well-loved novels and picture books, including Sarah, Plain and Tall, winner of the Newbery Medal; its sequels, Skylark and Caleb's Story; and Three Names, illustrated by Mike Wimmer. She lives in western ...more