The Token Gift


32 pages
ISBN 1-55037-498-2
DDC jC813'.54





Illustrations by Scott Cameron
Reviewed by Kelly L. Green

Kelly L. Green is the Secretary of the Ontario Federation of Teaching
Parents, the past editor of CBRA’s Children’s Literature edition,
and the past president of the Toronto & District Parent Co-operative
Preschool Corporation.


A wise old man in ancient India looks back on his life and finds that in
spite of all his accomplishments, he does not believe that he has made
the world a better place. When his king invites him to choose a reward
for inventing the game Chaturanga (chess), the old man asks for a
“token gift”—one grain of rice, doubled for each square on his
game board. The royal advisors soon inform the king that it would take
all the rice grown in the world for thousands of years to fulfil the old
man’s request. The resolution of this brilliant puzzle book cleverly
shows that it takes more than intellectual prowess to create a better
world (and vividly demonstrates the power of exponential growth into the

McKibbon’s clear text enables young readers to comprehend several
complex issues and concepts. Accented by darkly sumptuous and exotic
illustrations, this was my children’s favorite picture book of the
year. Highly recommended.


McKibbon, Hugh William., “The Token Gift,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024,