Emma Walton Hamilton is our featured June 12 x 12 author.  Several of the picture books she’s written with her mother, Julie Andrews, have already been included in Perfect Picture Book Friday, but my selection, SIMEON’S gift, holds a special place in my heart because it’s given me special moments with my children. Then, in an interview on Beth Stilborn’s blog, I read that Emma and her mother wrote the first draft of this book when Emma was only five years old. Now I love the book that much more!

Simeon’s Gift

Written by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton, Illustrated by Gennady Spirin

Harper Collins, September, 2006

Suitable for: Ages 5+

Themes/Topics: Music, Love, Travel, Nature, Performing Arts, Adventure, Europe

Opening/Synopsis: From Kirkus: “In a time of “castles and monasteries,” a poor young man named Simeon plays his lute for all and loves a noblewoman, Sorrel. He’s ashamed that he has little to offer her, so he goes on a journey to open himself to more music...” I also love the opening lines: “A long time ago, when castles and monasteries dotted the land and knights went forth to do brave deeds, when women wove beautiful tapestries and minstrels played for pauper and prince alike, there lived a humble musician named Simeon.  Though uneducated and penniless, he was a gentle, nature-loving man, and music was his passion.”

Activities:  Sit outdoors with your children and listen for “music.” Have them compose music using items from nature – sticks, stones, rubbing leaves together.  How many sounds can you make? The Julie Andrews Collection website also has an interactive game based on the book.  You can also buy the version with the CD of Julie Andrews reading the book, which is so wonderful.

Why I Like This Book: This book gave me a very special moment with my son, which you can read about here.  But it’s just a beautiful story that will engage both younger and older children (my nine year-old loves it).  The illustrations are sumptuous and fascinating.  I also love that I can let the kids listen to it while I’m cooking dinner or doing other chores around the house.  They are always more relaxed after listening to it than they were before.

For more fantastic picture books and resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.

Categories: 12 x 12 Featured Author, 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Children's Books, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Picture Books · Tags: , , , , , , , ,



  1. I saw that Ms. Stilborn did this too! What a coincecdence! 🙂 This looks like a great book! I love the “medieval times”!

  2. Great minds think alike, Julie! Oh well, I suppose two reviews are better than one. It is truly a beautiful book, and what a lovely story about you and your son. (Did you see that your June 1st post got a shout-out on Emma’s blog?)

  3. Wow. Thanks for sharing this one. Your review gave me goosebumps. This book is a must have!

  4. Julie, I enjoyed your review of Simeon’s Gift. It is one of my favorites — especially after learning years later it was Emma’s first book. I saw the premier of Simeon’s Gift in Louisville, KY in 2008, when conductor Ian Fraser composed and directed the performance. Julie Andrews narrated it and I was close enough to see the absolute delight in her face as she watched the singers/actors perform the book she and Emma wrote. It truly was a memorable evening. There also was a musical tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein. It traveled to several other cities.

  5. I love this book! It too is a favorite. Not only is it a lovely story but its beautifully illustrated by Gennady Spirin with jewel-like images.
    Thanks Julie!

  6. What a great choice, Julie! I cannot wait to get this book. Great activities too. Thanks for sharing. *waving*

  7. I have always loved the origins of this story for Emma, Julie and Tony, it somehow adds a richness to this beautiful book. I remember reading about your special moment with your son and this book. 🙂 It is so different to many of today’s loud, funny (which I also enjoy) texts, and this is very refreshing. Spirin’s illustrations are just exquisite, too! Great choice.

  8. This one looks good, Julie…I’ll be placing this on my “to read” list!

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