agiftA Gift
A story about home, family, hope, and love.
News and Press
  Yong Chen children's book A Gift  
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A Gift was reviewed on The Children's Bookshelf on CMU Public Radio out of Michigan.
The show was aired on October 14th and 16th, 2009.

A Gift, written and illustrated by Yong Chen is beautiful story of the importance of the family and the traditions we value.

Chen introduces his readers to Amy and her mother who are preparing for the important celebration of the Chinese New Year—a celebration usually shared with family. The problem, however, is that Amy has never met her aunt and uncles who live far away in a village in China. While Amy has learned about her aunt and uncles from her mother’s stories and from the letters they send, Amy knows that her mother is homesick and misses them more than ever during this time of year.

The story begins with a letter that is delivered to Amy and her mother from China. The letter tells of her Uncle Zhong finding a beautiful stone as he plowed his field—a stone that reminded him of others they found near a river when they were children. He then took the stone to his brother, Ming, who looked at it closely and “saw a dragon inside.” When the carving and polishing was completed, Ming took the dragon to his sister, Mei, who then created a necklace for her niece, Amy—a special gift in celebration of the New Year.

Amy is thrilled with the gift which symbolizes China—her mother’s homeland and the special love of the aunt and uncles who live on the other side of the world. Chen creates an uncomplicated yet powerful narrative that embodies the gift of love and tradition that binds together a family separated by miles, but not spirit. The stunning illustrations are done in watercolor and express the beauty and simplicity with a sense of grace.

A Gift, written and illustrated by Yong Chen is appropriate for ages 4 to 8.

This is Pamela Gates for the Children’s Bookshelf.

Discussion Questions for A Gift

  • Research the topic of the Chinese New Year.  What are some of the traditions associated with this celebration?
  • What traditions are celebrated in your family?
  • What is the importance of the Dragon in this story?
  • Look at a map of China.  Can you find how far away it is from where you live?
  • Amy’s uncle carved a dragon out of stone.  Research how carvings are done. 
  • Amy and her mother receive a letter from their family in China. 
    Take time and write a letter to someone special in your life.