Monday, December 24, 2012

The good little Christmas tree by Ursula Moray Williams illustrated by Gillian Tyler

It is Christmas eve and this morning I went to my school library and borrowed fifteen Christmas books. I set myself a target of 400 reviews on this blog by the end of the year - actually my original target was 500 but I know now that this was way too optimistic.

The Good Little Christmas Tree is a book that has been in our school library for over ten years but until tonight I had not read it. I now discover it was first published in 1943 and contained special paper cut illustrations made by Ursula Moray Williams herself.

This is quite a wordy Christmas story but it contains a lovely sentiment.  A poor farmer buys a simple, small Christmas tree for his children, the first one they have ever had.  He knows his wife will do her best to make it look quite splendid but he can't help wishing the tree might have a star on top, and tiny toys in the branches and sparkly tinsel.  The man's wife ties cookies to the tree branches with scarlet threads.  That night while everyone is asleep the tree jumps out of his pot and goes in search of special decorations so the children can enjoy some true Christmas magic the next morning.  Sadly everything he needs for his branches involves a sacrifice of  pine needles and even his strong branches.  By the end of the night the little tree does have some splendid decorations but "when he bent over the pool and saw his reflection in the moonlight he was so overcome by his miserable appearance that he shrank back into the snow as if he wished to hide himself completely... It was as if the stars, the slippers, the horse, the candles, the icicles, the toadstools and the diamonds hung on the arms of some ragged scarecrow!"

As he lies in the snow Father Christmas himself passes by.  He listens to the tree and learns about all his good intentions.  I know you are expecting a magical ending - you will not be disappointed.

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