The Definitive Guide to

What Is Given from the Heart

Written by Patricia C. McKissack and illustrated by April Harrison
- Bookroo Rating
Goodreads Rating - 4.5 / 5.0
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Target Age
Book Type

What's This Book About

Publisher Summary

This final, magnificent picture book from three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and Newbery Honor author Patricia McKissack is a poignant and uplifting celebration of the joy of giving.

“Misery loves company,” Mama says to James Otis. It’s been a rough couple of months for them, but Mama says as long as they have their health and strength, they’re blessed. One Sunday before Valentine’s Day, Reverend Dennis makes an announcement during the service— the Temples have lost everything in a fire, and the church is collecting anything that might be useful to them. James thinks hard about what he can add to the Temple’s “love box,” but what does he have worth giving? With her extraordinary gift for storytelling, McKissack—with stunning illustrations by Harrison—delivers a touching, powerful tale of compassion and reminds us all that what is given from the heart, reaches the heart.

What Kind of Book is What Is Given from the Heart

Quotes from This Book

  • "What is given from the heart reaches the heart."
  • "James Otis, I'm stitchin' with a loving heart."

What Questions Should I Ask My Child

  • Mama encourages James Otis to find something to give to a family struggling more than they. Even though James Otis doesn’t think he has much to give, his Mama teaches him that you can always give from the heart. Do you have any items you could let go of and donate to help someone in need?

  • James Otis comes up with the perfect gift for Sarah because it’s a gift of love from his heart. We don’t always have to give objects to help others—what gifts can you give, from the heart, that aren’t objects (like smiling or being a friend)?

Trusted Reviews & Ratings

The Book Snob Mom
Mom, Avid Reader, Austen Fangirl

This is a beautiful book! The illustrations are phenomenal and the message is one that sinks deep into the soul—the joy that comes from giving not from our plenty but from our own lack.

B is for Bookworm
Human Development Degree, Book-loving aunt
The Goodfather
Husband. Father. Children's Book Critic Extraordinaire:)
Mom of Boys
Three little boys who love books about dragons, whangdoodles and magic.

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Who Wrote What Is Given from the Heart

Who Illustrated What Is Given from the Heart

April Harrison

April Harrison is a renowned folk artist born and currently residing in Greenville, South Carolina. Her work appears in the public collections of Vanderbilt University, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, the Atlanta Housing Authority, and the Erskine University Museum and in many private collections. This is her first picture book. Learn more at

View Illustrator

What Has April Harrison Said About This Book

  • In dedicating this book to her grandchildren, April included this note:

    When your parents were very small, I used to special-order Patricia McKissack’s children’s books for them to enjoy. I would read aloud to them each night while they cuddled up in my arms. Who knew that one day I would illustrate her picture book and be able to share this wonderful legacy with the children of my children!

    I have learned that dreams really do come true and that what God has for you is for you. I pray that you treasure and believe that no matter where you find yourself in this world, God will find you and bestow upon you all that is planned for your life. Your mission is to be ready and say YES.

    May your love of reading always catch you with a book in hand.

    From my heart to yours, Grandma April

    Illustrator's book dedication
  • In her book dedication, April also added this note to Patricia McKissack, the book’s author:

    Although you’re no longer with us and we didn’t have an opportunity to meet prior to your passing, I truly felt your spirit was present while re-creating your story through pictures. Your work has been an inspiration to me, and I thank God for the opportunity to be a part of your last gift of storytelling through the written word. May God’s peace and love continue to rest upon you, and may your voice be forever remembered in the hearts of children everywhere.

    Illustrator's book dedication

April Harrison's Book Dedication

For my grandchildren: Khylee, Indya, Skyler, Myles, Faith, and Kiersten

What Do Critics Say About This Book

  • Kirkus Reviews

    “But James Otis can’t think of anything he has that the little girl would want. Finally, he comes up with a plan, and what he gives from the heart, little Sarah cherishes.”

    Read full review >>
  • Publishers Weekly

    “But when their pastor asks the congregation to help a family who lost everything in a fire, Mama does her part, sewing an apron made from her cherished white tablecloth, and she expects James to find “a li’l bit of something” for the girl, Sarah.”

    Read full review >>

Did This Book Win Any Awards

You bet it did. Check it out below!

  • 2020 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award - Illustrator

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Book Details

ISBN 10:
ISBN 13:
Publication Date:
January 1, 2019
Text Details:
The text of this book is set in Adobe Caslon Pro.
Illustration Details:
The illustrations were rendered in mixed media, including acrylics, collage, art pens, and found objects.