It’s rare that I do a book review and declare that I’m not going to say much about the text. However, this book demands such treatment (apologies to author Carol Ann Duffy).
The Gift is the story of a beautiful young girl who, when visiting the woods, makes a wish. To the girl’s surprise, an old woman appears and promises her wish will one day be granted.
The story has a dark, fairytale quality – parents should note that the girl’s wish is to be buried in the forest when she dies. The story goes on to tell of the girl’s rich, long life which includes children and grandchildren of her own. All the phases of the girl’s life, and especially its creativity, refer back to the woodland glade. It has many of the same sentiments as books like The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and deals with the sensitive topic of death in a natural and gentle way.
The magic of this book is in the illustrations. Renowned paper artist, Rob Ryan, has hand-cut dozens of scenes for the story – delicate woodlands, intricate towns and superb characters are created from single sheets of paper. The process is painstaking (see the video of Ryan working below) and when you look at the level of detail – star-filled night skies, fields of flowers and dense forest – you appreciate the amount of work that goes into each illustration.
Ryan’s work is available for purchase through his Etsy store, Mister Rob. As well as limited edition laser-cuts of his intricate illustrations, there’s also a variety of screen prints, cushions and gorgeous decorative tape.
The Gift is available through Book Depository, which ships free of charge to Australia.