Its Back, its Back , YAY, YAY….  she says jumping around her living room…. LOL  yes “Perfect Picture Book Friday” is back and we can enjoy once again, spending many hours blog hopping from Susanna’s blog enjoying reading from a wonderful selection of book reviews, books PERFECT for schools, at home, in librarys, for not only kids but teachers, parents, grandparents… everyone! Many with resources and crafts, ideal for in school, in homes, on holiday, for the long car ride, or simply to while away a rainy day for those young creative minds eager to absorb all that a writer or illustrator has to offer.

Here is a very special book to kick start my season on PPBF…..

“A Present from the Past”

Author:  Jennifer Beck

Illustrator: Lindy Fisher

Published:  2006 by Scholastic New Zealand Ltd

Dedicated in memory of women in wartime.

Ages:  6 and up

Theme:  Wartime, history, giving, positivity, compassion, understanding, values.

Opening Lines:  It was Christmas Eve.  Emily was thinking about the beautiful Christmas tree that she had just finished decorating at home.  How she wished she were there.  Instead, Emily and her parents were standing in the airport terminal, waiting for someone they’d never met before.

Synopsis:  Emily is a young girl eagerly looking forward to Christmas day and the opening of presents.  A relative, her father’s Aunt Mary, whom neither she nor her family had seen before arrives with a special gift.   Why had she travelled so far and what was so special about a small damaged box that was placed under the Christmas tree?  When Emily opened the present on Christmas morning Aunt Mary tells her of a young Princess Mary of the King and Queen of England and about the war during 1914.  The young Princess wanted to give all the soldiers and nurses who had travelled from far away a special gift to cheer them up she said.  Aunt Mary told Emily that her own mother was one of those nurses working alongside the soldiers on the front line, and her box carried chocolates.  One day a bullet hit her small box which she kept in her pocket, saving her life, while tending a wounded soldier.  Hence the bullet hole in the top of the box.  Emily learned that the young nurse married the soldier is her Great Grandmother and that Princess Mary’s birthday is the 25th April, which is New Zealand’s Anzac Day.   Aunt Mary had thought Emily would value such a special gift.

What I liked: just a few pages we learn a great deal about history, compassion of a young Princess Mary, only seventeen years at the time, during the outbreak of the First World War   In the back of the book is a lovely factual piece about the “Princess Mary Gift Boxes” that were commissioned and paid for by donations.  Each small box had the image of the princess on the lid were given to allied troops from Commonwealth countries, and inside were either gifts of tobacco, cigarettes for the soldiers, or sweets or chocolates for the nurses.  These have become treasured keepsakes for families all over the world, even today.  This book would be a great resource in History classes enticing conversations about war, troops overseas, and families dealing with loved ones during war time in the past.

It seemed particularly fitting to showcase such a beautiful and gratifying book at a time when here in New Zealand we have in the past two weeks lost five young soldiers, one a woman while in the line of duty assisting other soldiers in Afghanistan.

Findings/Resources: Here are a couple of links to factual pages great for students studying history.




I know its early days, but it is never too early to think of craft ideas for kids to do in preparation for Christmas, from Piñatas, advent calendars, to gift boxes to send to love ones overseas. From wreaths and tinsel right down to the potato-stamped wrapping paper, this link has it all.


About the Author:   http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/Writers/Profiles/Beck,%20Jennifer

For more books with resources please visit the lovely author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.    Her blog is full of resources links and activities associated with the books reviewed by many authors.

About Diane Tulloch

Known also as the Patientdreamer I am a writer who loves to dream, and is passionate about writing stories for the young so that they may join me in the wonders of adventure in countries and cultures afar, and in special moments to remember.
This entry was posted in Folklore / multicultural, Literature, Picture Book Review and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. What an excellent, history-filled, and touching book, Diane. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. This sounds wonderful, Diane – beautiful, touching, and filled with the kind of history that has real meaning to kids. What a nice tribute that you chose it today after the unfortunate losses you mentioned. Thanks for a lovely pick! 🙂

    • Thankyou Susanna. I had already ear-marked this book for kicking off PPBF and had most of the review already written up a month ago. So yes it was a nice tribute for the sad losses we are incurring here.

  3. Darlene says:

    You picked a perfect book for the returne of Perfect Picture Book Friday. I love books for kids that have historical information woven through them. Thanks!

  4. This sounds so great! I love your enthusiasm!

    I’m sorry about the loss of your soldiers. It is heartbreaking.

    • Thanks Penny, yeah I was sooo hanging out for PPBF, like everyone else….lol. It is heartbreaking especially since they all had young families back here. Nice to see you here.

  5. It’s never to early for Christmas. We read THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS all year long.

  6. You know I’d love this piece of historical fiction. I didn’t know about Princess Mary, so I learned something new. A very intriguing story for kids that also teaches history. Another great book from NZ.

  7. A beautiful piece of historical fiction. History is such a fascinating subject when it’s presented from a human point of view instead of a dry recitation of facts. Thanks, Diane!

    • Glad you like this Heather. Yes when it has a human feel or heart message such subjects as history do come across more easily and dates and facts seem to register with ease.

  8. Joanna says:

    What a wonderfully warm way to present history. I am so sorry for the loss of those five younf New Zealand soldiers!

  9. Julie says:

    Wow! Sounds like this book packs a lot in. Super choice!

  10. Sounds like an awesome story! Great pick for PPBF!

  11. Catherine Johnson says:

    What a fabulous book to have on xour bookshelf. Shamefully I didn’t know that story. And sorry to hear about New Zealand losses this week.

    • Hi Catherine. It is a lovely book with such a heart story. Seems we are in the news a bit this past week or so with whats been happening in Afganistan, sadly.

  12. Stacy S. Jensen says:

    What a great story. Thanks for sharing this. I’ll see if I can find it here in the U.S.

  13. Thankyou Stacy, hope you find it over there.

  14. Barb says:

    What a cool story! I love how everyone shares such different books. Thanks.

  15. What a beautiful story, Diane! Thank you for an awesome review and a wonderful list of resources to extend the learning activity.

    • Thankyou so much Vivian, glad you liked it. Nice to see you here again.

      • I know…it’s been really difficult for me to find the time to blog and comment on the comments on my blog and read other blogs and comment on those and…
        And I’ve pledged to focus more on my writing…and with the critique group, there will be reading other people’s writing and revising my own…I am planning on retiring from my “day” job at the end of the year…that day can’t come soon enough. 🙂

  16. I know what you mean, I often get overwhelmed by all the blog reading, and there is so many interesting ones out there. I am taking tentative slow steps in my writing as retirement for me is still a few years away. I look forward to our critique group, it will help me immensely.

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