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by Kathi Appelt & illustrated by Paul Brett Johnson

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: April 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-688-15392-5
Publisher: HarperCollins

A genuinely warm-hearted story of gift-giving that has a nice, traditional feel about it. The scene is Dogwood, somewhere in the rolling hills of the American South, and there is a new parson at the All-Faith Tabernacle. The townsfolk were “mighty pleased to have him, so right away they decided to have a pounding.” This might alarm some readers, but they soon learn that a “pounding” has nothing to do with beating the parson to jelly; a pounding is “when everyone takes a pound o’ this and a pound o’ that to help make Brother Harper feel at home.” Mama is making a blackberry pie, because it’s a treat, and Papa is gladly bringing a bucket of fresh milk. Young Jory wants to bring something, too, something like his brother’s useful sack of corn or Granny’s basket of eggs, of which she is justly proud, but Jory is too little to put together a pounding like those. Grandpa’s giving an apple sapling—a gift he’d like to get himself—which ultimately inspires Jory to give the parson a nice bag of rocks, good throwing rocks he’d like to have himself. A low thrum of kindliness runs through the proceedings, as it does through the artwork, despite what appear to be empty eye sockets and really bad teeth. There are a countless good reasons to give a gift—as a treat, because it’s useful, makes you proud, or because you’d like it and can share in the pleasure—and they get a gladdening observance in this sweetly old-fashioned tale that’s a gift to its readers. (Picture book. 4-8)