Confusion, misunderstands, not seeing “the signs”, being so caught up in your own problems you overlook the people or in this case animals around you. This all sounds quite complex but these things are sometimes right in the heart of some of the best picture books for very young children. It is a delight to a reader, especially a young one, to see or know things that the main character is missing. One book I have been thinking about this week which fits this description is The Silver Christmas tree by Pat Hutchins. Long out of print this is one of my favourite Christmas books.
Squirrel is convinced he knows exactly what his friends will give him for Christmas but as he sees Rabbit, Mouse, Fox and Duck each carrying a parcel - a parcel of the wrong shape and size, he can only feel great disappointment that his friends seem to have forgotten him.
On Christmas eve the friends gather at Squirrel’s house to share the presents. Each present is perfect but Squirrel himself realises he has been so caught up in his own issues he has forgotten to get a present for his friends. Then then darkness falls and one star can be seen at the top of his Christmas tree. This star is the best gift of all.
Here is an quote from the Kirkus review “and that final glow of star light, snow flakes and friendship leaves no doubt that Christmas is in the air.”
We met these same characters in other Pat Hutchins titles – The surprise Party, We’re going on a picnic and Shrinking Mouse.
Once Upon a Christmas time.
If you have not dipped into any Pat Hutchins books rush out and take a look. Along with the most perfect illustrations each contains a magical story. My personal favourites are the Monster Baby series although her most famous book is of course Rosie's Walk.