Heartwood Hotel - Book #2: The Greatest Gift

ISBN 9781443443975

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Written by Kallie George, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

Mona the mouse has finally found a place to call home, the cozy Heartwood Hotel, where she works as a maid and sleeps snuggled up in a room with her best friend. Following the festive St. Slumber celebration, most of the guests have settled in to hibernate, and the staff is looking forward to a relaxing winter. But disruptions abound, from a difficult duchess to a mysterious midnight snacker. As the snow stacks higher, Mona will have to gather friends both old and new to keep the peace, finding help in some of the most unexpected places.

The second book in the enchanting Heartwood Hotel series, The Greatest Gift will warm your heart with its endearing characters and exquisite illustrations.

Recommended for readers ages 7-10 years old.


Published in Canada by HarperCollins

Download the teacher's guide from the publisher here.


Kirkus Reviews
Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme.  A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously. A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

CM Review
4/4 stars
A True Home and The Greatest Gift are the first two novels in the “Heartwood Hotel” chapter book series: sweet, funny tales about a hotel for small forest animals.

The setting and characters of Heartwood Hotel are adorable without being saccharine. A hotel made out of a hollow tree and sized for mice and badgers is brought to life with clever, humourous details. The animal characters each have their own quirky personality, from the kind-hearted badger Mr. Heartwood, who always speaks in rhyme (unless he is particularly upset), to the huffy June bug who turns out to be a travel reviewer for the Pinecone Press (so it’s a good thing Mona was nice to her).
The plot has fun episodic adventures but also a longer, more poignant arc about Mona learning where she comes from and what happened to her family. The development of Mona’s and Tilly’s friendship is the glue that holds all the pieces together, and it will resonate particularly with children who encounter the same hesitation, misunderstanding and awkwardness as they learn how to make and keep friends. This series should prove popular with kids who like anthropomorphized animal stories, stories about small people in miniature worlds, and humourous adventures starring unlikely but stalwart heroes. Adults reading these stories aloud will enjoy the sly pokes at certain societal conventions and the clever development of the hollow tree setting. Highly Recommended.

Awards and recognition

Junior Library Guild Selection

Cybils Award Finalist 2017

CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens: Starred Selection