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The Christmas Gift    by R. William Bennett order for
Christmas Gift
by R. William Bennett
Order:  USA  Can
Burgess Adams, 2010 (2010)
* * *   Reviewed by Kelly Thunstrom

The Christmas Gift is an easy read which can be devoured in one night. It's funny how a book can turn your mood around. I wasn't having the best of days, so I decided to just zone out with a good story. Mind you, I read this on August 31. How can a book called The Christmas Gift be a good read in the dog days of August? It is when the gift has nothing to do with a package wrapped in pretty paper.

Bennett's story is short, but does not lack in warmth. Two boys in the sixth grade, Scott and Ben, play the bully and the victim. Ben is a burly boy who has no real friends. He spends his days picking on other kids. When Scott dares to stand up for another, he becomes the new target. Things progress until one day Scott cannot stand another minute, screaming that he hates Ben and others do too. Rather than feel good about standing up for himself, Scott begins to think that he should apologize. What transpires is the beginning of a remarkable friendship, where the reader is made to see that things are not always what they seem.

We never really know, unless they tell us, what is going on with other people ... why they act the way they do. In a world of lawsuits over spilled drinks and other frivolous things, The Christmas Gift reminds us to take a step back and see the humanity in others. As an aside, I would highly recommend this book to middle school teachers as a wonderful December read-aloud. Some wonderful discussions can be had from Bennett's gift to us all.

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