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

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  657 ratings  ·  143 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
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Community Reviews

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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  657 ratings  ·  143 reviews

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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 woma
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
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), ev ...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 rem ...more
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 Co
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
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 b ...more
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-with-kids
Not as good as her other books, but the kids liked it.
Dec 19, 2018 rated it liked it
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
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
I found this slightly underwhelming
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lovely, heart warming story!
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a very beautiful book!:)
Alexis Polk
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
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ellie, jacob, mom
Sweet short story.
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. “Co ...more
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 unexpect ...more
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.
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.
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I nice early reader but, for literary content and great story, it was okay. I wasn't thrilled! I was disappointed as a Patricia MacLachan story, (early chapter book or not.. a good story can be told simply)
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, childrens, fiction
This book was a treat, and a pleasure to read. A nice, quick pace. No fluff, but a good little story indeed.
Oct 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: christmas
Very cute story and children who are sensitive and like animals will love it. Not quite a great story but still a gentle read with a kind message
Dec 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Christian and Julia - 3 stars (Julia might have liked it more as she read ahead and finished it.)
Zacky - 4 stars
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was an adorable little Christmas story. Loved the illustrations in the book as well. I didn't realize till the end that this is by the same author who wrote Sarah plain and tall.
Jennifer Parent
Dec 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Sweet, simple story that we read for Advent but not as impactful as I had hoped. Better for younger children, ages 4-10 probably.
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful little story that I am passing to my children to read this season.
Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I think there was a lot of potential in this book that wasn't fully realized.
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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 Massach ...more