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The Christmas Tugboat: How the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Came to New York City
     

The Christmas Tugboat: How the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Came to New York City

5.0 2
by George Matteson, Adele Ursone, James E. Ransome (Illustrator)
 

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Nothing says Christmas like a Christmas tree, and the Rockefeller Center tree in New York City has said it beautifully since 1931. But how does the tree get there? One year, the tugboat captain (and author) George Matteson, his wife, and their daughter traveled by tug to fetch the giant tree. This dramatic picture book tells the story of their real-life journey up

Overview

Nothing says Christmas like a Christmas tree, and the Rockefeller Center tree in New York City has said it beautifully since 1931. But how does the tree get there? One year, the tugboat captain (and author) George Matteson, his wife, and their daughter traveled by tug to fetch the giant tree. This dramatic picture book tells the story of their real-life journey up the Hudson River, and James Ransome's striking paintings capture the excitement of the trip and the pride of the young girl who helped steer the tug into New York Harbor.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Readers will be captivated by the vivid details of the journey, which help form a radiant Christmas story."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"What gives this story depth is the richness of James E. Ransome's paintings: His use of color brings majesty to the working of men and machines in the shifting light of early dawn."
Wall Street Journal

"An attractive addition to the holiday shelf."
School Library Journal

"Absorbing."
Horn Book

Children's Literature - Susan Treadway
A young girl describes her thrilling experience transporting New York City’s first Christmas tree as her father’s tugboat pulled a huge barge along the Hudson River to Rockefeller Center. Usually, she and her mother stay behind while the captain heads to work at various times of day or night depending on the load, weather conditions, tides, and destination. On this particular day, the youngster (no name given) is immensely proud of her family, knowing bringing the tree would be a very unique job. Lifelike acrylic renderings provide close-ups of an emotional trip that is otherwise quite familiar to her since her father has taught her about vessels, responsibilities, and safety. The authors, who are parents of the young girl, and the illustrator, a long-time resident of New York’s Hudson Valley write personal insights in “About This Book.” Splendid artist renderings highlight their tugboat during a truly very special time in the city’s history. Readers follow along the coastline of New York as the girl depicts landmarks such as the Manhattan skyline and the majestic Statue of Liberty. She also lovingly talks about the inside of the tugboat, doing chores, passing time by painting local scenes, and actually learning how to steer the tugboat. Later, the tug brings its valuable cargo to an abandoned pier where the family spends the night. Early the next morning they resume their slow journey. At the George Washington Bridge, they are heralded by TV news helicopters, blue police boats, and a bright red-and-white fireboat pointing fire nozzles with red, white, and blue water shooting into the sky. Finally, they dock under the Manhattan Bridge along the seawall in the East River to deliver New York City’s first Christmas tree, quite a marvelous true story. Reviewer: Susan Treadway; Ages 4 to 8.
The New York Times Book Review
Ransome's rich paintings lend warmth to the wind-chilled scenes. Not every child gets this kind of adventure for Christmas, of course. But most will very gladly read all about it.
—Pamela Paul
Publishers Weekly
A girl wakes on a November morning at dawn to accompany her mother and father—a New York Harbor tugboat captain—on a special excursion: to pick up a tow ship carrying the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and deliver it to New York City. Ransome’s smudgy acrylic scenes transition smoothly from panoramic views of the tug crossing in front of the Manhattan skyline to intimate moments, such as an image of the girl riding with her father in the inviting pilot house. Readers will be captivated by the vivid details of the journey (based on the authors’ experiences with their daughter), which help form a radiant Christmas story. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Carlee Hallman
A girl and her mother accompany the father on a tugboat trip to deliver a Christmas tree down the Hudson River to New York City. The tree is on a tractor trailer which is on a barge. When they dock, the truck will take the tree to Rockefeller Center. Part way to their destination, they tie up overnight to sleep. As they approach the George Washington Bridge, helicopters fly overhead to take pictures for the morning news. Police boats run beside them. A tour boat with children greets them. The girl gets to steer for a while in New York Harbor. A fireboat sends red, white, and blue water above them. They dock, and the tree is whisked off by the truck to midtown. It has to be set up by the next day. A worker hands the girl a pinecone as a souvenir. The front and back two-page spreads show the red tugboat running along the New York skyline with snowflakes in the air. The bright blue, red, and green-colored pictures don't make up for the dull story. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Early one morning, a girl wakes up at dawn to travel with her dad and mom up the Hudson River in a tugboat. Their mission? To bring the barge bearing the giant Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree down the river to New York City. The somewhat lengthy text is full of information about the two-day journey, told from the girl's point of view ("The fastest we'll go…is about nine knots. That's like driving your car eleven miles an hour. Pretty slow!"). Ransome's full-page and full-spread acrylic paintings, highlighting big, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets above the Hudson River, are ravishing. More about tugboats than Christmas, but an attractive addition to the holiday shelf.—Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
A girl joins her tugboat-captain dad (along with her mom) on a family trip as they tow a barge with a gigantic Christmas tree and some immense ornaments into New York City for the holiday display at Rockefeller Center. The unnamed girl narrates the longish story in first person, detailing how her dad operates the tugboat and how they eat and sleep during their special overnight trip. The tugboat pulls the barge around the tip of Manhattan and into New York Harbor, past a tour boat, police boats and a fireboat shooting jets of water to welcome the Christmas tree delivery. Ransome's polished illustrations are the best part of the book, capturing all the different boats and scenes of New York City with glowing backgrounds at sunrise or sunset. The story has unanswered questions, however, because the huge ornaments that were transported with the tree are not shown with the lighted Christmas tree at the end, as expected, and Rockefeller Center and the significance of the tree there are never explained. A map would have been helpful to track the progress of the tugboat. Children in New York City who have seen the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will enjoy the atmospheric story; others may be puzzled by all the geographical references. (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780544555488
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
09/15/2015
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
48
Sales rank:
546,398
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Readers will be captivated by the vivid details of the journey, which help form a radiant Christmas story."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"What gives this story depth is the richness of James E. Ransome's paintings: His use of color brings majesty to the working of men and machines in the shifting light of early dawn."
Wall Street Journal

"An attractive addition to the holiday shelf."
School Library Journal

"Absorbing."
Horn Book

Meet the Author

George Matteson grew up around boats and has crewed on and captained many different types, including tugboats, an 1885 schooner, fishing boats, and a fisheries research vessel. He’s the author of two adult books, Tugboats of New York: An Illustrated History and Draggerman: Fishing on Georges Bank, as well as many articles in marine publications.
Adele Ursone is an artist, editor, and former editorial director of Universe/Rizzoli. She accompanied her husband, George Matteson, on towing jobs whenever her schedule allowed and loved their time on the water, often doing watercolor sketches while under way. You can see her artwork at www.adeleursone.com.
They live with their daughter in New York City and Sedgwick, Maine, never far from water.

George Matteson grew up around boats and has crewed on and captained many different types, including tugboats, an 1885 schooner, fishing boats, and a fisheries research vessel. He’s the author of two adult books, Tugboats of New York: An Illustrated History and Draggerman: Fishing on Georges Bank, as well as many articles in marine publications.
Adele Ursone is an artist, editor, and former editorial director of Universe/Rizzoli. She accompanied her husband, George Matteson, on towing jobs whenever her schedule allowed and loved their time on the water, often doing watercolor sketches while under way. You can see her artwork at www.adeleursone.com.
They live with their daughter in New York City and Sedgwick, Maine, never far from water.

James Ransome has illustrated more than 35 books for children, including many award winners. He lives in Rhinebeck, New York, with his wife, children's book author Lesa Cline Ransome, and their four children. Visit his website at www.jamesransome.com.

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The Christmas Tugboat: How the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Came to New York City 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gardenseed More than 1 year ago
A young girl accompanies her parents on an overnight trip on a tugboat, piloted by the father, towing a barge carrying the Rockefeller Center Christams tree down the Hudson to New York City. This is a true story, of a loving family depicted in text and large colorful paintings that can be enjoyed by readers of any age. There are fascinating details of what it's like to spend a night on a tugboat. Put this one under your tree! I did and sent several to my young relatives.