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Hansen, Joyce .
New York : Clarion, 1980.
IL 3-6, RL 5.3
ISBN 089919852X

(2 booktalks)

 Booktalk #1

                  Fifth-grader Doris lived on 163rd Street in the Bronx, but it felt more like prison.  She had to come straight home from school, because her mother was afraid of gang trouble on the playground.  She missed seeing pick-up basketball games with Russell, Big Sherman, and a guy they called Yellow Bird.  The twins, Mickey and Dotty, always made fun of her because she couldn’t do anything.  Doris was miserable.  She just wanted to be like everyone else.

                    That is when the new boy, Amir, came to her class.  He was small, looked a little older than the rest of the kids; he was quiet, thoughtful, nice but different.  Amir had a way of getting you to do something you had not planned on doing, and he was never bothered about not fitting in and being like everyone else.  Doris didn’t understand how “not fitting in” didn’t seem to bother Amir.  And she didn’t understand how just being around him, somehow, got a person to look at life a little differently.  Just what was it about Amir that made him so different?  Find out for yourself by reading The Gift-Giver, by Joyce Hansen.

                    (Exerpt from the book)
                    “How come you so different from the other boys, Amir?
                    He laughed.  “I’m different”
                    “You don’t know you different?”
                    “Why everybody got to be alike, Doris?”
                    “Well, people laugh at you when you different or strange…”
                    “People are always talking and laughing at somebody.  Talk can’t hurt you.  If you can’t do what other people do, so what?  Do something else.”

                    The Gift-Giver was Joyce Hansen’s first book and it was set in her native New York City. This former teacher has written historical fiction, non-fiction, and other realistic fiction books, including Yellow Bird and Me, and One True Friend (a continuation of The Gift-Giver).  Ms. Hansen currently lives in West Columbia, South Carolina.  (Gail King, USC College of Information & Library Science.

Booktalk #2

Doris lived in the Bronx, New York with her friends Sherman, Yellow Bird, Big Russell, and the twins, Mickey and Dotty.  There were few places to play in the city, and her parents were afraid to let her go to the playground.  So too often they made her come inside their apartment, much earlier than her friends had to go home.  The twins teased her.  Oh, how she hated not being able to do the things that the other kids could do.

                    Late that school year Amir joined her fifth grade class.  Doris felt sorry for him, because she knew that it is hard being new, and she thought the boys would give him a hard time.  Amir was small and quiet, but he was not afraid.  He didn't run home after school like many new kids did.  Instead he hung around and joked with the fellows.  He had a way of putting them at ease and even getting them to do things they had never thought of doing before they met him.

                    As he and Doris became friends he got her to think about why she felt it was so important to be like everyone else; why she worried so much that people would laugh at her and think that she was strange.  “People are always talking and laughing at somebody,” Amir said.  “Talk can't hurt you.  If you can't do what other people do, so what?  Do something else.”

                    Read about how one small and lonely boy changed the hearts of those he would call friends, in The Gift-Giver.  (Gail A. King,, University of South Carolina)

SUBJECTS:     African Americans -- Fiction.
                        Friendship -- Fiction.


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