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Winter's Gift



Last updated Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Author: Jane Monroe Donovan
Date of Publication: 2004
ISBN: 158536231X
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Dec. 2006

Synopsis: Book Description (Amazon.com) It may be Christmastime but on a small, forlorn farm the holiday season is best forgotten, along with painful memories of loved ones lost. Mother Nature has other plans, however, and a chance snowstorm brings together two unlikely hearts, one human and one beast, yet both yearning for comfort, companionship, and that most elusive gift of all, hope. This lustrous jewel of a story, quietly told and perfectly complemented by soft, evocative paintings, reminds even the most cynical of readers that the heart indeed can recover and go on.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What are some gifts that only winter gives?
•  Have you been to a place where it snows or is very cold.
•  Have you ever picked out a Christmas tree? Where did you go?
•  Where do Christmas trees come from?
•  Whom do you spend the holidays with?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What is the most important part of decorating the tree for the old man and his wife?
•  What is hope? Why has the old man lost his hope?
•  What is a foal? What is special about this foal? How does the baby foal represent hope for the old man?
•  What does the star on the foal’s head mean to the old man?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a star of hope. Around it write what you hope for. Discuss different kinds of stars: a four-pointed star like on the foal’s forehead; a five-pointed star; the six-pointed Star of David; the stars in the sky. Has anyone ever seen a shooting star? Wished on a star? What all do stars represent?
•  Draw your own symbol of hope.
•  The book says that hope is the most important part of Christmas. Make a list of things you think are important about Christmas. Decorate it.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!