By Rohan Henry
Abrams Books for Young Readers, $12.95, 32 pages
The Gift Box begins as a young elephant, Ollie, is told he is a beautiful gift by his mother. Proud of the news, Ollie tries to have his friend Benjamin guess what Ollie is. However, Ollie must overcome frustrations when Benjamin cannot guess right away. Eventually, Ollie comes to realize Benjamin is a beautiful gift as well.
This book, which is written and illustrated by Rohan Henry, is reminiscent of such beloved children’s books as “Babar the Elephant” and “Where’s Spot” with their simple white backgrounds and squirmy line drawings. These illustrations help young readers focus on the words of the story; drawing them away from the necessary aids of the images in picture books. ||While the message is sweet — that Ollie learns the significance of the complement and to bestow it upon his friends — it is not terribly exciting to make readers want to read the book again and again. Nevertheless The Gift Box is a wonderful book for early readers who are becoming comfortable with sight words and phonics. The story is simple and holds the repetition and play necessary to make a children’s book for this age group successful.
Reviewed by Sophie Sestero