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BOOK BUZZ: Xmas tree stories sweet, not sappy

The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy, Illus. by Emily Sutton, Somerville, Mass., Candlewick Press, $23.
fran ashdown

The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy, Illus. by Emily Sutton, Somerville, Mass., Candlewick Press, $23.99

What could be more appropriate for kids living on our green North Shore than a couple of festive picture books about Christmas trees?

The Christmas Eve Tree is a charming reprise of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Fir Tree, although with a much happier ending.
In this case, a scraggly fir tree tangled with its neighbour is sent with a truckload of trees to the Christmas market.
It sits in a store, stuck in the branches of its companion tree until the bigger tree is sold and the little tree wonders what its fate will be.

Happily, a homeless boy requests it and places the tree in front of his cardboard box shelter.

Other homeless people gather around the little tree now decorated with candles and soon Christmas songs fill the air.


The joy of the tree is boundless. After Christmas a benevolent street sweeper plants it in a park where you will find it to this day.

Huddy’s language is lovely and this modern fairy tale should become a classic. Sutton’s delicate watercolour illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to the text.         


The Great Spruce by John Duvall, Illus. by Rebecca Gibbon, NY, Putnam’s, $23.99

It’s not surprising that the author of The Great Spruce is a tree-care consultant. His debut picture book’s theme of conservation and environmental concern should strike a chord with local tree lovers.

Alec’s grandfather transplanted the tree that Alec loves to climb and play in so he is appalled when he finds the tree is to be taken to the city to be part of the Christmas celebration.

Rather that cutting it, Alec requests that the tree be dug up so it can be loaned on a temporary basis.


The cheerful acrylic ink and pencil illustrations aptly chronicle the tree’s journey from its rural home via barge to the big-city setting.

An author’s note explains the origin of the Christmas tree tradition and the history of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Duvall also includes an interesting pictorial sequence that outlines how a tree is transplanted.

Read both books to the small person in your family after a walk in the local forest.

Fran Ashdown was the children’s librarian at the Capilano Branch of the North Vancouver District Library. Her favourite view is of her backyard filled with trees. For more information check your local libraries.