The Gift by Carol Ann Duffy

The Gift by Carol Ann Duffy. Illustrations by Rob Ryan (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 32
Ages: 8+
Finished: Dec. 3, 2010
First Published: Oct. 1, 2010
Publisher: Barefoot Books
Genre: children, picture book, fairy tale
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

A long time ago, when the world and everything in it was younger, there lived a beautiful girl.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Barefoot Books.

Reason for Reading: It's a beautiful book.

First of all the artwork in The Gift is amazing. Rob Ryan is a papercut artist and each double page spread in this oversized picture book is adorned with a detailed, intricate papercut illustration each a single colour to fit the text being illustrated. This is a book that one lingers over the pages to take in all the tiny elements found in each illustration.

This is an original fairy tale by Carol Ann Duffy that explores the circle of life, the mystery of death and the living that goes on in between. The natural points of a life well-lived are touched: career, marriage, children, death, family and friends. But there is a deeper message here that explores the cultivation of one's spirit ("soul" in my world) and the mystery or supernatural element of death that creates a wonderfully beautiful and lyric story full of life.

This is a picture book for the older child as it really gives one pause for thinking on how life and death are connected. The child must also not be afraid of death or I think the story might prove to be over their heads. Otherwise, it is a beautiful story for a family to share to and delight in the glory of life and ponder the natural grace of death.


  1. As I expected, this book seems like one for the keeper shelf! Thanks for the review!


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