#1061 – The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy and Emily Sutton

9780763679170 The Christmas Eve Tree
Written Delia Huddy
Illustrated by Emily Sutton
Candlewick Press   9/27/2016
40 pages     Ages 4—8

“It’s late on Christmas Eve, and a little fir tree is the only one left for sale, What a poor thing I am, the crooked, spindly tree thinks. But along comes a boy who doesn’t seem to mind that the tree is neither tall nor straight, and it becomes an unforgettable Christmas for both of them.

“Author Delia Huddy and illustrator Emily Sutton have created a deeply moving story about hope and gratitude in the Christmas season that has all the hallmarks of a classic.” [INSIDE JACKET]

A little tree never has a chance. Poorly planted, the wind blows it into its neighbor, where they become entangled. We learn it wants to go where the tallest and best trees end up—a rather lofty desire. Instead, the tree goes to a small store along with its entangled mate. The store owner sells the big tree and is about to throw the little tree away when a young boy asks to have it. The boy plants the tree inside a discarded cardboard box and places it in front of his stoop, much to the little tree’s disappointment.
9780763679170_il_2_01b6aBeing homeless, the boy lives in a cardboard box, under a bridge. Soon, the other homeless people living there gather around the tree and sing carols. Passersby stop to join in or listen, causing a traffic jam. The spirit of Christmas rings loud and clear, making the little tree feel much better about it’s lot. But when the boy is ready to move on, he places the now brittle and brown tree on a pile meant for a bonfire. A street sweeper notices the tree has a green branch and saves it. He secretly plants the tree in a corner of the park, where it can grow unimpeded. Over the years, it flourishes to its potential height for a happy ending.

The little tree received three new starts and eventually got its wish. It could be Christmas magic, as the back cover suggests, or simply good luck. Either way, the tree’s story is uplifting. It inspires the songs sung by those living under the bridge, and gathers the passersby who delight and join in. All of this promotes a sense of community and equality. But a day or two later the young homeless boy simply walks away, leaving readers in the dark as to his fate. It being unanswered dampens the cheerful mood the tree’s story elicits from readers, making The Christmas Eve Tree a solidly realistic story around which the magic of the tree’s story lives.
9780763679170_il_1_b7039I want to love this story. I like the tree’s never-give-up existence, even if it could not directly influence it’s own life. It is grateful for its second and third chances to thrive. But then the homeless boy simply wanders off, possibly to find a warmer place to sleep, or possibly not. This uncertainty dampens the reader’s mood. I’m not sure what to say about The Christmas Eve Tree. The watercolor illustrations are magnificent and stunningly beautiful. I enjoy looking at these lovely spreads. But they too, make it clear the boy’s fate is open-ended and not necessarily in a good way. I think children will be equally concerned about this boy, possibly leading to a discussion about homeless kids. I don’t like the timing.

THE CHRISTMAS EVE TREE. Text copyright © 2016 by Delia Huddy. Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Emily Sutton. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, New York, NY.

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Reprinted with permission from THE CHRISTMAS EVE TREE © 2016 by Delia Huddy, Candlewick Press. Illustrations © 2016 by Emily Sutton.

Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

The Christmas Eve Tree
Written Delia Huddy
Illustrated by Emily Sutton
Candlewick Press 9/27/2016


5 thoughts on “#1061 – The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy and Emily Sutton

  1. I agree with Ms. Petrillo/Cupcake – Hmmm… I am not sure what to make of the ending, as you were. Odd way to end a Christmas story. I think it may have been better for the boy to plant the tree, and then either move on, or end the book with him maybe sleeping under it.


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