Saturday, November 2, 2013

The year of the perfect Christmas tree by Gloria Houston pictures by Barbara Cooney

I was chatting with a friend and fellow children's literature blogger about our favourite Christmas picture books.  I have lots I love but The Silver Christmas tree by Pat Hutchins is near the top.

My friend mentioned The Year of the perfect Christmas tree and I knew I would love this book. This is a Christmas story for a slight older age group - Grades 2-4.  I would follow this wonderful Christmas story with The Angel with the Mouth Organ (sadly long out of print).

The setting for this story is the Appalachian Mountains.  The Great War is raging across the oceans but Ruthie and her Mama and Papa live in a valley of peace.  Following a local tradition, Ruthie and her Papa set off in the Spring to find the Christmas tree that will be their gift to the church next Christmas.

"We shall have a balsam Christmas tree, my pretty young'un,' said Papa.  'The balsam grows up the rocky craigs where only a venturesome man may go.  The balsam is a perfect tree.  It grows up high, near to heaven."  Don't you love the word 'venturesome'.

Sadly, not long after they mark the tree, Papa is called away to be a soldier.  On Christmas eve Ruthie and her Mama visit the church.  The preacher explains that he has asked another person from the town to supply the Christmas tree this year.  Mama won't allow this to happen so she and Ruthie undertake the cold and dangerous journey up to the mountains to find the special balsam tree.

Here are some lesson notes.  Here is the review which includes the illustration below.  I am looking forward to adding this beautiful book to my Christmas reading list in 2013 which coincidentally marks the 25th anniversary of this book.

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