The Gift by Michael Speechley begins with a curious young girl, Rosie, intrigued by the home over the road which appears to be neglected and has fallen into disrepair. There is little evidence of who lives in this home, most people in the community believe the derelict home to be unoccupied, but Rosie is convinced an elderly woman lives there. Rosie wonders if they are lonely. This is a feeling Rosie can relate to and experiences since losing her Mum. She deeply misses her presence and the fun times they shared, Rosie especially misses growing plants with her Mum.
Rosie contemplates giving the person in the dilapidated house a gift and considers all kinds of options, as well as possible reactions from the recipient. In a quiet moment, the words her Mum used to tell her inspire her. Her Mum used to say, “if you look long and hard enough, you’ll see the beauty in everything”. Rosie decides on a gift and leaves it for the resident of the home over the road. Later that night, Rosie wonders what the person living in the home may think of her gift.
Rosie becomes more intrigued as evidence of the person receiving the gift comes to light each morning, yet Rosie never ever sees the occupant of the home.
Twelve months pass and Rosie decides the time has come to visit the home that is very uninviting on the outside and bring one final gift. Rosie finally meets the person living over the road and what ensues is most unexpected and a gift indeed! Rosie’s Mum is part of the gift that keeps on giving which tugs at the heartstrings.
This is a tender story about acts of kindness, loss, grieving, missing, friendships blossoming, connection and not judging by appearances. Just as in Michael Speechley’s first book, The All New Must Have Orange 430, the colour palette reflects Rosie’s emotions and contrasts the dark with the light. Opportunities to strengthen visual literacy skills abound with symbolism used throughout the story