cover image Gifts from the Heart

Gifts from the Heart

Victoria Osteen, illus. by Diane Palmisciano, S&S/Little Simon Inspirations, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4169-5551-1

Continuing her series of faith-based inspirational fables, Osteen—wife of minister/author Joel—tells how Sue and Jon (last seen in Unexpected Treasures) are transported through pretend play to a kingdom where the young subjects are in need of some shoring up. Snobby Sir Robbie has insisted that only those bearing the finest gifts can party with the king. But Sue and Jon know otherwise: " ‘You do not need a crown,' said Sue,/ ‘to give a gift that's true./The finest gifts in all the world/ God put inside of you.' " They persuade the children to put on a talent show and carnival, and it will come as little surprise that it thoroughly enchants the king. Osteen remains an unimaginative (at best) writer of rhymes—it's too bad her message can't be more aesthetically inspirational, though she gets a great deal of help from Palmisciano. While the watercolor images are pedestrian in their characterizations, there's a surprisingly strong and varied sense of composition at work, which keeps the story from sinking under its good intentions. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)