A beautiful girl lives with her father and mother in small town. She is a sensitive soul who listens to the gentle query of an owl. On a picnic in the woods, she has the feeling that she wants to be buried on the exact spot where she is standing. An other-worldly woman promises that she will have this wish when she dies in exchange for a flower necklace. Over the years the girl keeps this visitation a secret even though she continues to go to the sacred spot where she plants flowers and places her favorite stones.
The girl becomes a woman, an artist, a mother, and then a grandmother. Through all the years, the clearing in the woods remains an enchanted place for her and the ones she loves.
Carol Ann Duffy has created a delightfully lyrical tale that touches the heart with its universal truths about the deep connections we can have with a special place that stirs and nurtures our souls. The first woman to have held the position of Poet Laureate in Britain, she is well attuned to the mysteries which give our lives meaning. Nature writer Edward Abbey once wrote: "Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of an ideal place, the right place, the one true home." Duffy's story and illustrator Rob Ryan's folk-art help us to see this more clearly.
The Gift is aimed at children in grades 2 through 4. It is a bold work in light of the wide-spread American avoidance of thinking about death.