The Gift

by Alain Serge Dzotap (Author) Delphine Renon (Illustrator)

The Gift
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade
When Leo opens his birthday presents, he receives an amazing gift: a pen! Inside it, Papa says, are many beautiful things. But how do you get them out? None of his friends can guess. Super-Zombo doesn't get anywhere by blowing on it, and Coco-Tembo thinks it's too tiny to hold anything important. Maybe Leo's mama will know how to reveal all the wonders inside... This warm, charming story is a perfect introduction to the joy of writing. Like Leo, young readers will discover how a simple utensil can express all the words in the world--even one's own name.

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Kirkus Reviews

A beautiful look at the wonder of creativity and self-expression. Not to be missed! (Picture book. 4-7)
Copyright 2021 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission

School Library Journal

K-Gr 3--Leo, a young cheetah cub, is given a red pen for his birthday by his father. His father shares with Leo that there are many beautiful things inside of the pen, but he will have to wait until his father returns from the market to discover them. As one might expect a young cub to be, he grows impatient and tries to bring the beautiful things out of the pen with the help of others. The text moves along at a good pace, revealing just enough, and Renon remarkably illustrates the colorful characters who try to help Leo. The lush, green jungle glistens in the background as Leo makes his way from one character to the next, until eventually he asks for help from his mother. As she places her paw over Leo's, she is able to help him, too. Ever so slowly, they move the pen across the paper until he discovers that they have written his name. Eventually he uses the pen on his own to create extraordinary illustrations across several pages of paper. His father returns and praises Leo's illustrations, telling him that he is a natural. VERDICT A wonderful title to include in collections, teaching children to find the gifts they hold inside.--Katie Callahan

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Alain Serge Dzotap
Alain Serge Dzotap is a children's author, poet, and literacy advocate. His books have received the Saint-Exupéry Valeurs Jeunesse Prize and have been included in the International Youth Library's White Ravens catalog. He lives in Cameroon, where he has been awarded the country's medal of knight of the order of merit. The Gift is his first book published in English.

Delphine Renon is a French illustrator, ceramicist, and graphic designer. Her books include The Quiet Crocodile (Princeton Architectural) and Emmett and Caleb (Book Island), which was nominated for the 2020 Kate Greenaway Medal. Visit Delphine's website at or follow her on Instagram @delphinerenon.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Publication date
February 20, 2022
BISAC categories
JUV051000 - Juvenile Fiction | Imagination & Play
JUV039090 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | New Experience
JUV002150 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Lions, Tigers, Leopards, etc.
JUV009080 - Juvenile Fiction | Concepts | Words
Library of Congress categories
Picture books

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