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Reviewed by Francis Mont for Readers' Favorite
The Perfect Gift: Something Special, written by Emma L. Price and illustrated by Beverly Hawkins Hall, is a story about a little boy named Marlon. His class has been given the assignment of finding presents to give to children in the hospital. Marlon asks his mother, his older sister, and his father for the right answer, and while none of his family refuses to help, they are all very busy just at the moment. They tactfully give him time and encouragement to find his own answer. Marlon comes up with several gifts that would make him happy, all ideas that sound very good to him. But pets and marbles are not suitable for a hospital room, and his teacher rejects these suggestions without fanfare. Then, on a visit to his grandparents’ house, Marlon notices their cat playing with a sock, which reminds him of a time when he was sick and his grandmother gave him a stuffed koala bear made from a sock. Marlon spends his own money on supplies and enlists the help of his family to make very personal cuddly toys, something truly special to take to sick children.
The Perfect Gift: Something Special by Emma L. Price is suitable for children aged 5 and up. It is concise and easy to read, with small blocks of text in clear bold font on each illustrated page. The watercolor pictures by Beverly Hawkins Hall are bright, clean, and uncluttered. They show personality, thought, and feeling on the faces of the characters. The grandparents’ cat is named Mr. Spock, which I appreciated, as will most adults who read this book aloud. The family dynamics depicted in the story are worthy of emulation: there is a mutual respect that’s all the more effective because it is taken for granted. Another thing I appreciate is that the characters, including the young protagonist, think and speak in grammatically correct sentences.
The child in the story is going through a process of thinking of other people’s needs, and the child reading or hearing the story can follow along, contributing their own ideas, which may generate some interesting and worthwhile conversations. This is a book that teaches good values, good relationships, and good communication. The Perfect Gift: Something Special by Emma L. Price sets an excellent example. I enjoyed reading it and warmly recommend it to parents, grandparents, elementary schools, and libraries.