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Review of What Is Given from the Heart

What Is Given from the Heart
by Patricia C. McKissack; illus. by April Harrison
Primary, Intermediate    Schwartz & Wade/Random    40 pp.    g 
1/19    978-0-375-83615-2    $17.99
Library ed.  978-0-375-93615-9    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-0-375-98800-4    $10.99 

From the late Patricia McKissack, a story of giving — even when it seems one has nothing to spare. James Otis and his mother lost their farm and have lived in a “run-down shotgun house in the Bottoms” ever since “Daddy went to sleep on the front porch and never woke up.” Then one Sunday, Mama and James Otis hear an exhortation from Reverend Dennis, who tells the congregation that a family in their church community has lost everything in a house fire. James Otis marvels that Mama is considering contributing to the Temple family’s “love box” because, as far as he can tell, they themselves have nothing. But Mama repeats the reverend’s words — “What is given from the heart reaches the heart” — and James Otis starts thinking differently about what he does have. Harrison’s illustrations embody the transformation that takes place not just within this small family but in the entire community. Sad expressions permeate the earlier pictures, but after Mama and James Otis begin to focus on those who have even less than they do, the mood brightens; and it turns out that giving has its own rewards, both figuratively and literally. Harrison’s detailed, highly textured, and strikingly patterned collage illustrations invite readers to linger over the pages and also add depth to the story’s secondary characters.

From the January/February 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Michelle H. Martin About Michelle H. Martin

Dr. Michelle H. Martin is the Beverly Cleary Professor for Children & Youth Services in the Information School at the University of Washington in Seattle.



  1. martin magovsky says:

    is your review considered “a starred review by the horn book magazine?? appreciate a reply…..i personally think this last book by patricia mc kissack an superbly illustrated by april harrison is a definite 202 caldecott contender….

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