The Third Gift

After harvesting an especially large “tear” of a resin known as myrrh, a young boy and his father visit a spice merchant whose three customers are seeking a special gift to bring to a baby. Includes biblical references and historical information about the Magi and myrrh.

5 thoughts on “The Third Gift

  1. Tracy Smiles says:

    I agree with many of the comments the previous 2 contributors made about The Third Gift. It is, indeed, a beautiful book. What’s not love? It an endearing story centering around a father mentoring his son in the ancient ways of harvesting myrrh, with a surprising twist at the end, connecting the “tears” to the birth of the Christ child. So I am wondering why this book didn’t “move” me in similar ways?

    I love Linda Sue Park. Her children’s novels are seminal, and can say without hesitation A Single Shard is one of my all-time favorite books. This book, however, doesn’t quite reach the high standard to which I hold her novels. The prose is clumsy, and the story itself forgettable until the surprise at the end— which is somewhat dependent on the author’s note to make sense. I also wonder if this book would appeal to children as much as it does adult readers. To me, the story needed more action. In fact, as I read I kept waiting for something to happen, anything… Perhaps it could’ve been told in a tighter, more pithy way.

    Petty quibbles aside, this book is one I’d recommend. The exquisite illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline are extraordinary… and the historical and cultural significance is interesting, potentially leading to explorations into the time, place, and people during this Biblical time.

  2. As a person who lives in the desert, I appreciated the way the illustrator captured the sandy variations of color and nuanced textures of the desert. The illustrations are striking and give an ancient shimmering feel to the Arab desert landscape that really pulls the viewer into the book.

  3. Tracy Smiles says:

    While I agree with much of what the two contributors say about The Third Gift, I have to wonder why it didn’t “grab” me in the same way? I like “stories behind the story” kinds of books, and when I figured out the boy and his father were selling myrrh was for the Christ child I thought it interesting and clever.

    I love Linda Sue Park. Her novels are seminal in the world of children’s literature, and yet I didn’t think the writing in this picture book held up to that standard. The prose is clumsy, and the lack of action made most of the story forgettable to me (except the ending, which relied somewhat on the author’s note to make sense). The story’s theme of passing down the unique knowledge of harvesting “tears” to his son is endearing, but the tale in all simply missed the mark for me, until the end. I wonder, too, what children think of the story? Does it have “kid appeal”?

    Petty quibbles aside, I think this is a beautiful book, and one I’d recommend. My favorite aspect of the book are Bagram Ibatoulline’s exquisite illustrations.

  4. Mary Fahrenbruck says:

    The Third Gift by Linda Sue Park
    Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

    “My father collects tears” a young boy tells us in the opening line of this story. We soon learn that the tears are drops of resin that seep from cuts made in small, spiny trees. As the plot unfolds, the boy describes how his father is teaching him the process of creating and collecting the resin tears. On this particular day in the story, the boy notices that most of the tears are small except for one the size of a hen’s egg. The boy tells us that the spice merchants in the market place will pay good sums of money for the tears, especially the larger tear, because of their valuable uses to customers.

    The climax of the story is unexpected and unforgettable. At the marketplace a merchant has been waiting for the boy and his father. The merchant invites them into his tent and introduces them to three well-dressed men. After carefully examining the tears, the men decide to buy the larger tear as a gift for a baby. The boy thinks this is an odd gift for a baby. I, as the reader think it odd as well until one of the men says; We have a gift of gold and a gift of frankincense. Now we will add to them a gift of myrrh. At this point I am able to piece together the story! Unfortunately, the boy is left to wonder about the gift and the baby as story ends. In fact he has no idea that he and his father have just sold to three kings one of the most renowned gifts to in the history of Christianity!

    This book was one among a stack of books in my office that I had ordered after perusing the WOW database of titles. I couldn’t recall what the book was about and the beautiful gouache illustrations gave no hints about the tear and its significance. As I read each page of the text, questions began to formulate. I was both curious and perplexed until the very end!

    I enjoyed reading this story immensely; so much so that I reflected on why it captivated me like it did. I concluded that not knowing what the book was initially about enhanced the pleasure of reading it. I wonder if I would have been as delighted as I was at the end of the story if I had known the resin tears were myrrh destined for the Christ child.

  5. Andrew Sbarra says:

    I absolutely loved this book. The author does a wonderful job telling another perspective of the three wise men’s gifts in regards to the Christmas Story. The fictional story follows a young boy and his father as they collect “tears” from trees, which end up being myrrh. I would recommend this book for the Christmas season, especially in any Christian based school.

    As far as picture books go, the illustrations in this book are nothing short of amazing. At some points, I found myself studying the characters faces because I thought they could be photographs placed within drawings. It does an excellent job capturing the innocent expressions of our main character as he observes his father, the marketplace, and finally the three magi.

    I highly recommend The Third Gift.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *