The Christmas Gift
Bennett's allegorical novel about spreading goodwill toward men follows the lives of two boys and charts the course of their unlikely friendship. New sixth-grader Scott makes an instant enemy in troubled, oversized Ben, who bullies him in the lunchroom and on the playground. But when Scott tells Ben he's hated by the entire school, the bully is hurt, and this surprising reaction touches Scott. Feeling sorry for the older boy, Scott—at the advice of his father—visits Ben and apologizes, and the two boys become friends. By looking beyond first impressions, Scott sees Ben as a gifted artist with dire health problems who hides his weakness behind mean behavior. Bennett frames this moral tale around a lawyer (the adult Scott, still in possession of Ben's drawings) who is visited by an irate and litigious client. The lesson to pause and closely examine life will resonate with readers of all ages. Ages 12–18.