January 13, 2019


Illustrated by April Harrison, What Is Given From the Heart is Newbery Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Award winner Patricia C McKissack's final book. Ms. McKissack passed away in the summer of 2017.

It's been a rough couple of months for Mama and her son James Otis, but Mama always says that as long as they have their health and strength, they're blessed. One Sunday, Reverend Dennis announces that the Temples have lost all their possessions in a fire, and the church is collecting donations for them. James Otis wants to help, but he doesn't have anything he thinks is worth giving. So how can he contribute? A compassionate conversation with Mama teaches James that what is given from the heart reaches the heart, and James finds a way to help his neighbors.

This is Harrison's debut picture book, and her mixed media illustrations are created from acrylic, collage, pens, and found objects, rendering each spread full of texture and energy. There's also a sense of depth to each image, with objects and people stacked on top of each other as they extend past the borders of the page. It all comes together particularly well at the end when Mama and James Otis are walking home and it snows: the puffs of white snow are practically iridescent, and you can't help but feel wrapped up in this world. 

What Is Given From the Heart published last week from Schwartz and Wade Books. 

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