Monday, December 15, 2008

The Gift of the Christmas Cookie by Dandi Daley Mackall

The Gift of the Christmas Cookie: Sharing the True Meaning of Jesus' Birth by Dandi Daley Mackall
Geared Towards: Ages 4-7
Published By: ZonderKidz
Publication Date: October 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0310713289

Christmas comes but once every twelve months, but the true story behind it should be one we all hold dear to our hearts throughout the entire year. The Gift of the Christmas Cookie: Sharing the True Meaning of Jesus' Birth is a book that can be enjoyed no matter the time of year. Set in an era not so unlike today where the economy was in a slump and money was hard to come by, The Gift of the Christmas Cookie is the story of a young boy named Jack who learns there's more to life than physical pleasures and blessings.

Poor and missing his father who has gone off in search of work, Jack is surprised to come home and find his mother baking Christmas cookies. Cookies are an unnecessary amenity that his mother gave up making long before. Why, now of all times, is she baking? Jack really hopes the cookies are for them, but as it turns out they're for the needy at church. Jack's spirit falls as he's caused to think of his own neediness. But then his mother takes the opportunity to explain to him the story behind the block print cookies she's making, and how they relate to something so much bigger than his own downtrodden spirit. You see, the cookies aren't just any cookies. No, they're made in rememberance of Jesus' birth. Made as a way to witness and share the story of that special day, the day the angels announced with triumphant joy that the Christ child had been born.

Jack finds his own comfort and joy in the Christmas story related to him by his mother through the cookies. He still misses his father, but he finds a new found respect for the reason of the season. When Jack's mom surprises him Christmas morning with a big angel cookie all of his own, he excitedly accepts as he knows it's the only present there will be this year. Before Jack can take a bite of his cookie there is a knock on the door. Surprise and trepidation course through Jack as his mother rushes to answer the door. Could it be his father, home to surprise his family for Christmas? No. Jack's heart falls as he sees but an old scruffy man standing in door. Inviting him in for a bite to eat, Jack and his mother share their Christmas breakfast with the stranger- neither having the heart, despite their disappointment, to send him away empty handed. Afterwards the old man takes his leave. As he walks away, the boy suddenly feels inclined to share the Christmas story- the cookie story- with the old man. In order to do so, the boy must give up his one and only cookie, but doing so ends up bringing Jack more joy and happiness than eating the cookie himself ever could.

Here we have a story that I absolutely loved. It was kind of mellow, however, the message was so good. I don't know if the history implied through the story was fact or fiction, yet I don't think it really matters. It could be that the author completely made up the story about the woodsman making the cookie presses and using them as a witness tool. That could have been all fictional. That's not the point though. The idea behind it could totally be applied to modern times, and I think the idea of using something as common place as a cookie to witness is incredibly creative. Not the mention the story itself was both sweet, tender, and moving. I actually had trouble vocalizing the last couple of pages when reading to my daughter, because the emotions the story stirred in me literally choked me up. Jack's innocence, vulnerability, and graciousness made tears come to my eyes. The story, especially the latter half, was that good.

Even though my 5 year didn't seem nearly as impressed with this one as I was, I'll definitely be keeping this in our collection to read again. I think the message it holds bears repeating.

OUR RATING: 4 hearts

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