An elderly man named Henry recalls the Christmas season of 1931 in this relatively long story that connects the Depression era to Habitat for Humanity via the enormous Christmas trees at Rockefeller Center in New York City.
A boy of 9 or 10, Henry lives with his parents in a tiny, unheated shack in the country. Henry helps his father cut down evergreen trees to take to the city to sell, and there they befriend some men working on the construction of Rockefeller Center. Together they decorate a makeshift Christmas tree; Henry's father gives the last of the trees to the workers. On Christmas morning the workers respond by arriving at Henry's home with materials to build a new house. The boy receives a hammer from one of the men, and Henry grows up to be a skilled carpenter himself. In a Dickensian series of coincidences, a huge tree on Henry's land is chosen as a Christmas tree for Rockefeller Center, with wood milled from the tree to be given to a family for their new house. Henry meets the young girl whose family will receive the wood and passes his treasured hammer on to her. Luminous illustrations in a large format have a muted, shimmering quality, especially in the concluding view of the magical tree at Rockefeller Center.
A sentimental but touching story with beautifully realized illustrations. (author's note)Â (Picture book. 5-9)Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Ever since construction workers building New York's Rockefeller Center put up a humble Christmas tree on site in 1931, the annual tradition has become a gift that keeps on giving. Author/historian Rubel's story of a Depression-era family's connection to that first tree--and the ripple effect of its bounties--puts the now magnificent symbol in perspective. LaMarche conveys emotional resonance with gauzy, soft-hued paintings of the inspirational proceedings. An afterword highlights Rockfeller Center owner Tishman Speyer's recent partnership with Habitat for Humanity, which earmarks the tree to be milled for lumber post-Christmas for a family in need. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC
Gr 1-4--During the Great Depression in New York City, young Henry lives with his out-of-work parents in a drafty shack and sells Christmas trees with his father. Giving a tall tree to some friendly construction workers results in the workers helping to build a house for his family; years later, a pinecone Henry plants becomes a Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, which is then milled for wood to build a home for another needy family. Detailed characterizations and a straightforward tone keep the tender tale from becoming saccharine. LaMarche's almost impressionistic colored-pencil illustrations put readers in the midst of the action. Appendixes tell the true story of the origin of the Rockefeller Center tree and describe the mission of Habitat for Humanity International.--Linda Israelson, Los Angeles Public Library[Page 97]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.