In the voice of the titular character, Cole (A Nest for Celeste) wistfully recounts the life and times of a Christmas tree. The sound of chain saws in late autumn stirs fear in the tree that has come to love growing on a wide-open hillside. The tree’s small stature spares it from the blade. Instead it’s bundled, roots and all, off to the Christmas tree lot where a family brings it home for a holiday celebration and a new life afterward. Bucolic expanses of evergreen forest and closeups of woodland creatures may give readers new appreciation for that quintessential seasonal decoration. Ages 4�7. (Oct.)
The Horn Book
“Through a clear, engaging text and lush yet lively illustrations, Cole celebrates embracing that which makes us unique in a narrative that also focuses on respecting nature.”
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
The little evergreen narrating this story lives happily on a hillside "with others like me all around," growing taller and stronger through the seasons. In winter the little tree rests "under a blanket of snow;" when the chickadees begin to sing, the little tree knows "that spring was just a melting snowflake away." But then one autumn the men come with their terrifying chainsaws. Most of the trees are brutally felled. But the little tree"Too small to make much of a tree!"is fortunately dug up, roots and all, to be sold as a living Christmas tree. The tree survives the holiday celebration in the "hot" and "stuffy" house, as "the shiny things on my branches got heavier and heavier." Then, finally, the ordeal of Christmas comes to an end and the tree is replanted in the family's yard, once again able to enjoy the passage of the years beneath the blue sky. Cole's paintings capture the beauty of the tree's first home and the lovely panorama of the changing seasons; his text makes a powerful case against the harvesting of Christmas trees and in favor of more tree-friendly holiday alternatives. But this environmentalist message doesn't make for a heart-warming Christmas story to read in front of one's own dead tree, or even in front of one's own living tree that is stoically enduring holiday hoopla until the wonderful relief when Christmas can finally be over. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Told from the perspective of a small evergreen, this tale begins with the narrator as a sprout and continues through the seasons until men come with their chainsaws. Luckily, the tree's size saves it from being cut down. "They dug me out of the earth and bound my roots tightly with cloth and rope. Then I too was put on the truck." Taken to a Christmas tree lot, it is taken home by a family where it is decorated with ornaments and begins to feel loved. After a few weeks, the evergreen is replanted in the yard, where it grows big and strong. Illustrations are of a contemporary setting with nature's beauty brought forth through the lush greenery. A fine Christmas choice with an environmental message.—Diane Olivo-Posner, Los Angeles Public Library
This tale is narrated by an anthropomorphic, talking Christmas treethat describes its life cycle from seedling through a Christmas season as a decorated tree and then on to full growth as a tall evergreen.
The tree marks its growth through all sorts of weather and recounts the different birds that have nested in its branches. One year, in late fall, workers with chain saws cut down the surrounding trees, but the narrating tree is too small, so it is dug up and taken to the sales lot as a living tree. A family purchases the tree, decorating it for Christmas and then planting it in their yard. The final illustration shows the immense, full-grown tree, who has had "a long and beautiful life." Ascribing human emotions to the narrator tree strains credulity, and the sadness attributed to the cut trees will make anyone with that sort of tree in the house feel guilty. Serviceable illustrations in double-page spread format adequately support the text, but the narrating tree never truly takes root as a real character.
Talking Christmas trees really aren't a good idea for a children's book.(Picture book. 4-7)