Name of Book: The Present
Author: Bob Gill
Illustrator: Bob Gill
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Audience: Ages 3 – 8
Summary: This is a delightful story in which the main character, a boy named Arthur, discovers the joy of giving. He finds a beautifully wrapped present in the top of his Dad’s closet and knows it must be for his upcoming birthday. The majority of the book is Arthur imagining all the wonderful things that could be hidden inside the box, from gumballs, to a tractor, to a new bicycle wheel! Finally, it’s the day before his birthday and a woman comes to the door collecting toys for poor children. Without thinking twice Arthur runs to the closet, grabs the beautiful, mysterious box and gives it to the woman, without ever learning what’s inside.
Literary Elements at Work in the Story: The simplicity of this book is what gives it its beauty. The author does a great job using childlike language and capturing the thought process of a child. There is some understated humor in the book that young children would definitely appreciate (“If the present were from Uncle Tony, it would be gloves. He gives gloves every year.”) The simple and colorful illustrations on each page would capture any child’s imagination and have them wondering what the present could be.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? This book remains unaffected by all these factors.
Theological Conversation: We are called to give cheerfully, with glad hearts. This story provides a perfect example of a child doing just that. The great part is that the book allows the readers to make draw their own conclusions and make their own connections about giving. The story simply ends with Arthur giving the woman the present without thinking twice. It doesn’t say how he felt or why he made that decision. These would be great things to think about together with a class.
Faith Talk Questions:
1. What did you think was going to be in the box?
2. Did you expect Arthur to give his present away?
3. Why do you think he did that?
4. God asks us to give things away sometimes when other people are in need. Have you ever given something to someone in need? What could you give?
Review prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Megan Argabrite
The Present by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.