God’s Gift By Lee Ann Mancini

What a unique children’s holiday book! I have never seen one like it before. The story opens with the sea families preparing for the holiday by decorating their caves and yards. Christian and Mary turtle are putting up their tree and lights getting ready for Christmas. Jacob and Jeremiah starfish are decorating for Hanukkah with their menorah. At the playground the friends begin to bicker about which is better, Christmas or Hanukkah and which yields the most gifts (a very important topic with children). As you can imagine nothing is resolved and the fuming kids go home. Arriving home they immediately vent their anger to their parents. The wise turtle and starfish parents arrange a meeting at each other’s houses to learn about the meanings of their very different celebrations. The young sea creatures learn many valuable lessons and respect for one another’s faith.
This book impressed me on many levels. First of all children of both the Jewish and Christian faith can enjoy it and gain understanding about beliefs and traditions unlike theirs. This is the one thing I feel makes it one of a kind! I was amazed that from the very beginning, Ms. Mancini shares the foundation of each faith’s holiday celebration in one sentence! Throughout the book there is the Star of David and a cross to find.
I appreciated there was no Santa Claus mentioned as I believe that takes away from our celebration of Christ’s birth, especially in the mind of a young child. I also applaud her for tackling the subject of kids overwhelming focus on receiving gifts! The sea parents help the children realize that presents are not what they celebrate and their true gifts are much greater. The parents are once again emphasized as those giving direction and wisdom to the youngsters. Of course as with all of the author’s books, prayer is a central part of the story.
This book took me back to my 2nd grade year. I had a dear friend, which I am still in touch with, that was Jewish. She belonged to my Bluebirds group too. I see now our mothers were wise women as we had a Christmas and Hanukkah party at separate times. It made our holiday celebrations very natural though unalike. Yes, I was focused on gifts and remember asking my mother if I could convert to Judaism as I was sure 8 days of festiveness would yield more loot than just one! I shared this recently with my dear friend 50 years later and we both had a good laugh.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. The opinions stated are my own.


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