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cindy l hobson(castillo)

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The Greatest Gift
by cindy l hobson(castillo)  Laurie Hoover (Illustrator) 

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Books by cindy l hobson(castillo)
· Shadows of Time
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Publisher:  The Writer's Exchange E-Publishers ISBN-10:  1876962135 Type: 


Copyright:  Nov 28 2001

A panda bear and two friends discover friendship on a potentially dangerous adventure.

writer's exchange

Amanda is a lonely Panda. Because of her large size the other animals in the forest are not very nice to her. But all that changes when Amanda and Rosalee, the dove who is too small, become friends.

Venturing into the dangerous woods to pick berries one day will result in a new friendship, a test their own and danger that threatens their lives.


In the forest there lived a little panda bear whose name was Amanda. Amanda was a chubby little black and white panda who always wore a bright pink dress and a pretty pink bow upon her head. She had big beautiful eyes that always made her look sad. And, sometimes, she was sad.

Amanda liked to run and play and jump, but Amanda couldn't run and jump like the rest of the animals because she was too chubby. Although Amanda liked doing those other things, she loved to eat more than play.

Her favorite things to eat were the berries that grew in the scary part of the forest where no one ever went except Amanda. She was brave. She wasn't afraid of anything.

Professional Reviews

Amanda is a little panda bear who lives in the forest. She's lonely because the other animals in the forest tease her about being chubby. And she's sad because she doesn't have any friends until she sees Rosalee, a little white dove, in the forest one day and they quickly become good friends. When Amanda and Rosalee journey into the woods to pick berries they meet a new friend but soon find themselves in a dangerous situation that proves friendship is the greatest gift of all!

"The Greatest Gift" is a delightful story with vivid illustrations that teaches children the power of true friendship!

~ Reviewed By Christina Lewis, freelance writer and owner/editor of - a children's literature website, and


Amanda the sad and lonely panda, sits under an oak tree picking flowers, when along comes a bird named Rosalee. They talk of how different they are from one another, and Amanda tells Rosalee of how she has no friends because all the other animals in the forest call her names and tease her all the time because of her weight.

Rosalee and Amanda become very good friends.

When Amanda decides to go pick berries, Rosalee asks if she can go along. When Rosalee finds out that the berries are in the woods, Rosalee says she can't go in. Rustling sounds draw them to a bush in the meadow and they end up meeting a cute little skunk named Dan.

Amanda has new friends. Together the three of them trench through dangerous woods, and finally reach the berries. With full bellies, they decide to head out of the woods, when they encounter some hungry wolves. Dan, the skunk, and Rosalee, the bird, help save Amanda from being eaten. They realize just how important friends are.

The dialogue is clear and easy to follow. Most children will be able to relate to Amanda's problem of being picked on by her peers. The twisting tale, with the happy ending lets children know that life is full of ups and downs, and that it's important to be yourself. A great lesson book for children ages five and up.

My children and me thoroughly enjoyed reading Ms. Castillo's book THE GREATEST GIFT. I look forward to reading more by this author.

~ Reviewed Jennifer LB Leese, ASTORYWEAVER'S Book Reviews,

***** 5 Stars
Rating ***** 5 Stars

Cindy Castillo brings us an adorable little book with a life lesson not to be forgotten. What is the greatest gift? Well, come along with Amanda the Panda Bear and you'll soon discover it.

Amanda is a sad Panda Bear. Even though she wears a beautiful pink dress every day, with a matching bow, the other animals still make fun of her. Why? Because Amanda is so chubby she can't play like they do. She can't run and jump like the other animals and they laugh and make fun of her. Amanda cries because she has no friends.

Then one day she meets Rosalee, a little white dove. The dove is curious about why Amanda picks flowers. Amanda quickly tells Rosalee she likes to look at them, and smell them and eat them. Rosalee finds eating flowers disgusting, she'll take worms instead.

Amanda makes friends with Rosalee when she discovers that everyone thinks Rosalee is too small to fly well. So they have something in common. Amanda invites Rosalee to go into the woods to pick berries. Rosalee is afraid of the woods, but decides that with Amanda she might not be so afraid. Amanda is afraid, but won't admit it.

They bump into a skunk named Dan and now they have another friend. Dan's been running from wolves. About to leave th forest, they spot the berries and munch out.

On the way home though, they run into a pack of wolves and they all scatter and run. But Amanda is big and moves slower and can't outrun the wolves. Now her friends must make a decision to either go home without her or go back for her.

This story is simplistic and yet tells a tale that a child can understand about friendship and how to be a friend. No child could resist the charms of Amanda, the wit of Dan the skunk, nor the loyalties of Rosalee. Discover with your child one of the greatest gifts of all--friendship!

Great little book with a delightful cast that will keep your child turning those pages to see what happens next. A must read for kids.

~ Reviewed By Rita Hestand for Romancing the Web Reviews

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cindy l hobson(castillo)

The Greatest Gift

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