Review of The Gift

The Gift The Gift
by Alain Serge Dzotap; illus. by Delphine Renon
Preschool    Eerdmans    32 pp.  g
2/22    978-0-8028-5583-1    $17.99

Leo, a young cheetah, gets a pen for his birthday. His father promises that after returning from the market he will show Leo how to make “beautiful things” emerge. Impatient, Leo asks his big sister; a hen named Coco-Tembo; and giraffe Super-Zombo, but none knows how a pen works. Leo’s mother finally shows him how to write his name, and tells him that “all the words in the world” are in the pen. Leo then draws on his own, and the story ends with the child showing his delighted father his creations. The prose is direct and feels effortless in this satisfying tale about innate creativity. Renon’s cheery colored-pencil and ink illustrations feature animals dressed in appealing clothing and framed by lush, decorative greenery. The simple figures and bold hues on clean white backgrounds give the book a friendly, open feel. Along with the heartfelt message, the story and pictures contain touches of humor. Leo’s sister sports headphones and looks to be reading a magazine. The giraffe tries (and fails) to use the pen as a flute. This is Cameroonian writer and poet Dzotap’s first book to be translated into English, and it will be welcomed on preschool and kindergarten shelves.

From the May/June 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Maeve Visser Knoth

Maeve Visser Knoth is a librarian at Phillips Brooks School, Menlo Park, ­California. She has chaired the Notable Children’s Books Committee and taught at Notre Dame de Namur University and Lesley University.

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