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Reviewed by Hilary Hawkes for Readers' Favorite
Ronel and the Best Gift Ever by Ronel D. Pierre is based on the true story of young Ronel who lives in the orphanage and longs to find his real parents. Through his imagination, he befriends Tootie the parrot and Sofy the spotted dog, who both agree to help him in his search. He puts posters of his lost family up in the forest. The other children at the orphanage laugh at his ideas, and when Kat, a kind woman, visits the home with gifts for all, Ronel misses out on a present and sits alone and lonely. But then Kat has a wonderful surprise for the little boy and Ronel finds happiness and a home of his own after all.
Ronel and the Best Gift Ever is one of those special stories that are part story and part concept book. Pierre’s account of the sadness and loneliness of an orphaned child is touching and heart-breaking. Ronel experiences what many children in such a situation experience: a longing and hopefulness that their parents are somewhere and that things will change for them. I love the way his imagination provides him with motivation and further hope, and his boldness in asking for what he wants. What a perceptive child too, to see that the unkind words and laughter of the other children at the orphanage are just projections of their own feelings of rejection and longing.
This book has a few special messages for young readers: about appreciating our homes and loved ones, understanding others, and doing what we can where we can to make a difference. We can’t have everything we long for in life, but it is good to believe situations can and do change in time. And it is always better to allow what happens to us in life to help us develop compassion and appreciation, and to use that to understand others. A gentle, poignant and well-written story that is accompanied by colorful and detailed illustrations on every page. A special book to share with a child or group of children which can prompt discussions about the issues raised by the story. So, a very worthy addition to any child’s home or class library.