"You are invited to a Tea Party at Grandma's home. December 24th at 3 o'clock. Please say you'll come and have tea with me. Love, Grandma. P.S. Dolls and Teddy Bears of all ages and sizes are welcome." This invitation is written inside the outline of a giant teapot on the first page--a cheerful welcome to all little girls to come in, sit down, and enjoy a tea party with a young Moravian girl, Ruth, and her grandmother. The best part of Grandma's tea parties is her stories of her own Moravian childhood during World War II. The grandmother, of course, is Mimi; and Mimi's Gift is the story Grandma tells Ruth for the remainder of the book.
The pages of Mimi's Gift are packed with character traits that flow naturally from the storyline: "I loved the doll the minute I saw her, and named her Patience. Because, I thought, I might actually learn to be more patient if I named her after the trait that I lacked the most." Mimi's desire to truly learn patience is emphasized throughout the book. Also seamlessly woven into the story are priceless gems of Moravian church history, outfits, traditions, and the daily life of the Moravian people in the United States in the 1940s. I didn't know there was a Moravian church, and I was fascinated with both the references to Moravian culture and the author's illustrations. On nearly every illustrated page a small "Work Follows Faith" quote appears - whether written on a bucket or hanging from a wall plaque. This is Mimi's mom's favorite quote, but I wondered about its significance to the storyline. I wish the author had made a better connection between a quote that was obviously important enough to include in the illustrations but was only mentioned briefly in the text.
Besides learning patience, Mimi's goal is to make a gift to bring to the Christmas Eve service - a gift for poor children in far-away Alaska. "Have patience and faith" is the recurring theme that helps Mimi solve her problem by first thinking of a gift she can make and then persevering to make it a reality.
At 107 pages, with full-color illustrations on glossy paper, Mimi's Gift is a lengthy read and occasionally bogs down. I felt that some of the details could have been left out or tightened into a story that moved at a little faster pace. Nevertheless, it is a worthy read, and little girls should enjoy the story of Mimi and her Moravian family of the past.