North Dakota rancher and cowboy poet Rodney Nelson has crafted a story/poem about an amiable old cowboy who wants to give a Christmas gift to his little friends at the rural school, but can’t quite come up with a practical idea. When inspiration finally hits, Wilbur begins to fear that his gift will be too simple to be well received, even though it involves self-sacrifice.

In the end, the appreciation and love showered on Wilbur makes the hardships worthwhile. And old Wilbur reflects on what his mother used to tell him: “The greatest gifts you’ll get my son, — will be those you give away”.

The tale is entertaining for children, yet grown-ups will enjoy the poignant story as well. The poem begs to be read aloud in front of a roaring fireplace with mugs of hot cocoa.

Illustrations by North Dakota rancher and artist Scott Nelson, who incidentally is not related to the author, are rustic and add to the feel of the story. The piercing cold of the frosty prairie seems to blow right through the pages.

Wilbur’s Christmas Gift is a wonderful story of the rewards of thoughtfulness and kindness. A good book to bring out every Christmas to remind us that some of the simplest gifts mean the most.


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