Posted in Adult Nonfiction, Book, Book Review, Children's, Christianity, Picture Book, Reading



Two books by Ann Voskamp, two reviews, but I am reviewing them together for they dovetail so beautifully with one another.  As you can see by the covers, the titles are slightly different, as is the layout, as well as the intended audience.  Yet, they are both for Advent, for the waiting of Christ to come.  Ann’s desire is for each and all of us to come to Christmas with a heart open to God’s love.  Christmas trees go up each year with the hustle and bustle of preparation for December 25th.  But the twenty-four days prior can bring so much more when we spend time getting to know Jesus, the One we await.  Ann takes us into the family tree of Jesus.  “Out of the stump of Jesse (King David’s father) will grow a shoot….”  That shoot that bears fruit of hope and love is Jesus.  Ann introduces us to the Jesse Tree.  Each day we discover a branch of Jesus’ family tree, from “the beginning” when God created through the day of Jesus’ birth.  It is a rich story.  Ann writes, “If we want our Christmas tree to really stand wondrous and full of meaning, the tree we really need to understand and be astonished by is the family tree of Jesus Christ.  Because this is our story—your story.”

THE GREATEST GIFT: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas
Beginning on December 1and through Christmas Day, this devotional takes us to the very depths of Christmas.  It reminds us that Christmas is about waiting for the Holy One Whom God sent to bring us into relationship with Himself  Each day begins with a Scripture that points to Jesus.  Ann follows God’s Word with words of her own that wrap around the Scripture and wrap our hearts around the meaning God intends for us as we delve into His beautiful Word announcing the coming of His Son.  We are given something to “do”…in the world that would remind us, those around us, or those we touch by the “doing” of this precious gift of Jesus.  We read a quote by an author, current or long ago, that takes us further into the heart of this day’s meaningful depths, which is then followed by “A Moment for Reflection” where Ann asks three questions.  Below each question, she gives us room to write as we ponder our personal answers.  At the end of the book, she gives us the website and “code word” to download beautifully designed ornaments for the Jesse Tree that you may have decided to do with your family.  This is a book that can be done alone or with your family.  It was published for the 2013 Christmas.

UNWRAPPING THE GREATEST GIFT: A Family Celebration of Christmas 
This beautiful book was published for this current Christmas, 2014.  Ann takes the beauty of last year’s white devotional and wraps it up with colorful family ribbons, art that is so very pleasing to the eye.  Children will be drawn into this book by the beauty of color and the artwork that matches each day’s devotional.  This book is meant to be read aloud with the family gathered around.  Beginning on December 1 through Christmas Day, each day has a Scripture and a story from God’s Word that relates to that Scripture.  There are “Thoughts to Discuss,” concluding with an activity for the family to engage in together.
At the end of the book, there is, once again, the website from which to download ornaments for one’s own Jesse Tree.  DaySpring has two different sets of ornaments available for purchase.  There is a DVD Curriculum “designed for families, small groups, and Bible Study classes” also.

Ann Voskamp is a wife to a Canadian farmer, mother tow six children whom she home-schools.  Two of her books have been on the New York Times Bestseller list- The Greatest Gift and One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.   Her blog, one of the Top 10 Christian blogs on the web is

THE GREATEST GIFT illustrators and photographers include: Stephen Vosloo – cover photograph; Paula Doherty – cut paper illustrations; Molly Morton-Sydorak – author photograph; Julie Chen – design

UNWRAPPING THE GREATEST GIFT has three illustrators: Jacqueline L. Nunez – cover and story opener illustrations; Paula Doherty – cut paper illustrations; Martina Peluso – interior story illustrations

Book Information/The Greatest Gift

  • ISBN-13: 9781414387086
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/30/2013
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.88 (d)
  • New York Bestseller #7 in Religion, Spirituality and Faith – December, 2014

Book Information/Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

  • ISBN-13: 9781414397542
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/3/2014
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Originally reviewed December, 2014


I am a quiet woman growing each day in the LORD. Christ is my home. He is the well from which I drink. I became His 25 years ago. I am 71 so that is actually a small percentage of my life through which I could have walked closely with Him. No matter, He never stopped waiting for me. I am now a widow from a Christ-centered marriage of 25 years to Kenneth. I praise God for him. I miss him so. We had no children. I feel God’s call to be His light in this dark world. I am grateful for the love God gives to me so I may give it away. I live in Lufkin, Texas, USA (in Deep East Texas/Pineywoods). I have taught Women’s Sunday School/Bible Study, co-administrated/taught a teen girls’ annual conference. I participate in women’s Bible studies in church as well as on my own. I am a retired elementary school teacher, having taught in California, Washington, D.C., and have taught older children and adults in Oregon and Texas. I also retired from being a children’s librarian in the public library system, a job I thoroughly loved. I tutored primary-aged children who are falling behind in those early years of school until we moved in May 2017.

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