Josie’s Gift by Kathleen Long Bostrum takes place during the Great Depression. Times were difficult for many families in America. Things are especially difficult for Josie’s family, because the father is dead. The mother and two children are barely able to pay the bills.
This is the first Christmas since the death of Josie’s father. The mother and children are feeling his loss. There is a family ritual of displaying the nativity scene during the Christmas holidays. The father carves a new piece each Christmas. This Christmas there will be no additional display piece.
Josie desires a blue sweater in the window of the department store. She tells her mother about the sweater. Her mother reminds her of the depression. The family has to work hard for money to keep the farm and eat. Josie knows the mother is right, but she loves the blue sweater. She believes the sweater will fill the emptiness she feels in her heart.
Christmas Eve comes and the tiny family continues their annual traditions. They go to church for the preacher’s sermon and sing beautiful Christmas hymns. Josie heart does not feel beautiful. The world is not beautiful.
In her bedroom, Josie finds the blue sweater. She is overjoyed, but still emptiness ravishes her heart. Josie leaves the house to take a late night walk. She soon finds herself in the barn. Someone is in the barn with her!
Josie finds a couple with a small baby in the cold barn. They are one of the millions who lost their home during the depression. The proud husband declines Josie invitation to come into the house. He just asks to stay in the barn overnight. Josie agrees. Also, Josie realizes the child’s only covering is a ragged blanket. Immediately, she gives her beautiful blue sweater for the baby.
On the way home, Josie’s heart lightens. She feels better than she has for months. On entrance to the parlor, she kneels and prays to God. She thanks Him for Jesus and Christmas. She realizes physical gifts do not make one happy, but the beautiful ones from God.
Josie’s Gift teaches children that Christmas gifts don’t make you happy, but the love of God. Also, the picture book teaches compassion and giving to others. Josie did not give the baby her old red shawl, but her precious blue sweater.
Frank Ordaz illustrates Josie’s Gift. His paintings are as warm as the fire in the family’s hearth. He uses a soft palate to convey the love between the remaining family members. Click on the Amazon icon to view his work.
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Note: Josie's Gift by Kathleen Long Bostrom review book was free from Media Masters.