cover image What Is Given from the Heart

What Is Given from the Heart

Patricia C. McKissack, illus. by April Harrison. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-83615-2

James Otis and his mother don’t have much. Daddy died last April—he didn’t even “have a suit to be buried in” —the family farm is gone, and the two of them now live in a “run-down shotgun house” that floods when it rains. But when their pastor asks the congregation to help a family who lost everything in a fire, Mama does her part, sewing an apron made from her cherished white tablecloth, and she expects James to find “a li’l bit of something” for the girl, Sarah. “What is given from the heart reaches the heart,” Mama says, echoing the pastor’s words. After much thought, James Otis creates a book for and about Sarah herself—a gift the girl presses to her heart. This final book by the late McKissack (Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout) showcases the legendary author’s signature lyricism in full force and receives a stunning, aesthetically ambitious interpretation by Harrison, a fine artist making her picture book debut. Flattened perspectives lend her characters quiet stature and communal strength, and elaborately textured colors exude translucence and light, almost as if these mixed-media images were created from stained glass. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. (Jan.) [/em]