Many years ago, when I was checking out Christmas books for my then four year old daughter, I discovered a gem that embodied the true spirit and meaning of the holiday season. To this day, it remains my favorite! Christmas Present from a Friend by Yuriko Kimura is based on an old Chinese fable, not originally intended as a Christmas story. However, when you add the snow and soft light of water color illustrations by Masako Matsumura, we have the perfect backdrop for the setting of our wintery story. The beautiful tale, in its rich simplicity, captures the heart of friendship and this season of giving. Rabbit is very hungry but has nothing to eat, so she must go out in the cold and search for food. She finds two big carrots almost buried in the snow, eats her fill of one, and decides to give the other carrot to her equally hungry friend, Donkey. Donkey has gone out in search for food and is surprised to find the carrot upon his return. He has been lucky to find a sack of potatoes, eats his fill, and decides to give the carrot to his friend sheep. I think you can see where this is going and even so it is worth the journey, especially, shared with a child on your lap. Sadly, the book went out of print a few years ago. I have one beat up and much loved copy at my desk at the library.
Rabbit's Gift, by George Shannon with illustrations by Laura Dronzek published in 2007. Yes, the same fable, with a new interpretation, but very close to the one I've just described, both in language and illustration. Pima County Public Library has several copies available. Even more good news, Rabbit's Gift is still in print! So if you love it as much as I did, you'll want to buy a copy for yourself and the children in your life. Happy Holidays!