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