A Gift for Mama
Written by: Linda Ravin Lodding
Illustrated by: Alison Jay
Published by: Gullane Children's Books, London
Hard cover, 32-pages, picture book

Oskar sets out—with a single coin—to find the perfect gift for his mother. And he spots it at once: a beautiful yellow rose. But when he meets an artist, Oskar trades the rose for a paintbrush. And when he meets a conductor, he trades the paintbrush for a sheet of music...

The bustling streets are full of interesting people and delightful possible presents, and Oskar trades one gift for another, and another, and another! But what he finds by the end of the day is even more precious.

Simple kindness is at the heart of this enchanting, gloriously-illustrated tale.




Here's what people are saying about A GIFT FOR MAMA:

The beauty and rich culture of historic Vienna course through this sweet, circular story from Lodding (The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister), in which a boy strives to procure the perfect birthday present for his mother. Armed with a single coin…Colorful storefronts, elegant carriages, and a stately opera house depicted in Jay’s (The Cloud Spinner) earthy palette and crackle varnish help evoke an earlier century. Her stylized forms—along with spirited background appearances by a cat, fox, and runaway dog—underscore the vibrancy of city life. An author’s note about Vienna’s role in inspiring the book is included.

-- Starred Review, Publisher's Weekly

The search for the perfect present is a tried-and-true storybook conceit, and it is given an enchanting twist in Lodding’s tale, as readers journey through old Vienna along with Oskar, meeting the artists, musicians, writers, and royalty who made the fin de siècle era unique… Jay’s illustrations feature the warmly aged, crackled surface of an ancient painting and the kindly ovoid bodies that have become her trademark. As an introduction to a special time and place, Lodding’s unique offering will prove a treat for sensitive, imaginative readers.

-- Booklist 


“The beauty and warmth of the tale is skillfully matched in Jay’s glowing illustrations that appear to have an aged, crackled finish. Treat this lovely story as a gift worth sharing.”

-- Kirkus Review


In this lovely, circular story set in 19th-century Vienna, Oskar searches for the perfect gift for his mother, armed with a single coin…In the concluding paragraph, Lodding states that most of the people Oskar meets are important figures from Viennese history–Gustav Klimt, Felix Salten, Johann Strauss II, and Empress Sisi–and that this is Vienna’s story as well as Oskar’s. The narrative is well written and satisfying to read aloud. Jay’s crackle-glazed paintings are as dreamily beautiful as ever, masterfully composed, and full of interesting details…this is a lovely and successful book about optimism, giving, and love. Purchase without hesitation.

-- School Library Journal


“Simple kindness is at the heart of this enchanting, gloriously-illustrated tale.”

 -- KidsReads

 "A Gift for Mama is going on our "keep" shelf. Next to The Cloud Spinner, of course. The conbination of story and pictures leaves readers with a warm feeling. And the fact that there is a bit of historical knowledge hidden in the book adds a special bonus. Recommended for ages four and up for home or library use."

-- Jen Robinson's Book Page 

"Add this one to your list of books to help students learn about predicting.  Set in Vienna at the end of the 1800’s, Jay’s illustrations are a charming backdrop to Lodding’s tale."

-- Kiss the Book

 "The art of Allison Jay provides a strong complement to Oskar’s tale. Her combinations of teal yellow and green provide luminous warmth. Also, the crackle-glazed finish gives her illustrations a European atmosphere.

The importance of this old world connection is heightened in the author’s note. Lodding (who lived in Austria) explains that she imagined Oskar “darting through the old town” of 19th Century Vienna, meeting artist Gustav Klimt, musician-composer Johann Strauss, author Felix Salten and others....the book provides a rich experience for a child ready to enter an intricate tale."

- The Daily Republic