Monday 19 December 2022

Picture Book Den Celebrates - Christmas Trees!

'Tis the season to be merry and we would like to say a big thank you to all our readers and supporters this year. 

To celebrate, we have each chosen a picture book that features a TREE!

Natascha Biebow

This beautiful cloth-bound Christmas story is magical! It's Christmas Eve and ten little angels are busy helping people on Earth.  With each kind, thoughtful, compassionate act, the Angels turn around and join the choir (the angel heads are cut-outs along the top of the book). Until . . .

From The Christmas Angels by Else Wenz-Vietor

"The tenth angles is the first to see (the tree for all the angels who do good things),
and lights the candles on the tree."
(From The Christmas Angels by Else Wenz-Vietor)

In my family, which is originally from Northern Europe, we always had real candles like these on our tree. Even in Brazil where I grew up, where it's baking hot at Christmas time! The family tradition has kept on going. The warm candle-lit glow is a reminder of the spirit of Christmas family time and gratitude for small acts of kindness. Wishing you a happy festive season wherever you are!

Mini Grey

I'm choosing Adoette by Lydia Monks. It's not a Christmas tree, but a street tree who is celebrated in this book. 

Lydia Monks was inspired to write the story of Adoette (whose name means 'large tree' in Native American) by the rampant tree-felling that went on in her home city of Sheffield from 2014. Adoette is a 100 year old tree. 

When she was a sapling, she stood in a field, but then a city grew around her and she became a street tree. (How excellent that the Victorians retained existing trees when they built cities; there's a tree in Sheffield who was also originally in a field called Vernon Oak - you can follow this tree on twitter at @SAVEDORETREES) Adoette becomes a large mature street tree...but then people start to wonder if she's getting in their way....

I love street trees - they're our city forests. One big old tree can be a home to a vast number of organisms. Where people and nature come together, nature often seems to be considered inconvenient. Adoette is a plea to cherish our street trees. Let's give midwinter thanks for them!

Pippa Goodhart

What more important tree could there be at Christmas than The Family Tree, whether that family is created by blood or friendship, people or creatures or ... sticks?

Julia Donaldson's Stick Man story is (and I don't say this lightly) perfect; funny, exciting, heart-rending, heart-mending, with a glow of Christmas at the end. Axel Sheffler's pictures bring the story to visual life, endowing sticks with such character we are them as we read words and pictures.

'Stick Man lives in the family tree
With his Stick Lady Love and their stick children three.

But disaster befalls poor Stick Man, and he is taken further from home and more into danger to a point where it seems all is lost ... until he and Father Christmas save each other, and ...

Lynne Garner

I've chosen Be A Tree written by Maria Gianferrari and illustrated by Felicita Sala. 

Before I started writing picture books I was, am still am a non-fiction writer. So, I love a good non-fiction picture book. Especially one that has such an important message. The book starts with the lines "Be a tree! Stand tall. Stretch your branches to the sun." In my minds eye I  can see a room of kids taking part in the story. Stretching their arms out and being a tree.

The book continues in this vein linking our bodies to the parts of a tree. It also touches on the wonder of nature and that fungi and trees live successfully together, supporting one another and allowing trees to communicate. 

It explores how important trees are and that they, like us are stronger together than alone. Perhaps my favourite lines in the entire book is "a family, a community, a country, a cosmos. There is enough for all."

So, if you're looking for something to educate and entertain a child in your family do add this book to your list.

Clare Helen Welsh

Those who know me and my picture book tastes, know I have a fondness (ok, let's call it an obsession!) for books that merge the line between fact and fiction. Whether you refer to them as narrative non-fiction, faction or something else, there's so much inspiration in the real world. 

The Owl Who Came For Christmas, written by John Hay and illustrated by our very own Picture Book Denner - Garry Parsons - is a great example of a picture book whose roots began in an incredible true life event. 

Christmas is coming, and the decorations are going up…
But one family is about to discover an unexpected visitor snuggled up in their Christmas tree…
A little owl called Rosie!

This picture book is a sweet and heart-warming tale about a family who find a little owl nestled in their Christmas tree! It is based on the true story of an owl who was sleeping in a tree when it was cut down and taken to the city! Children will love the inclusion of 'The story of the real Rosie the Owl' at the back of the book. I personally love to hear what inspires creatives in their works of fiction.

I fell in love with this little owl from the cover alone! But inside, the charming characters and a wonderful story continue - an excellent picture book for young families, especially at Christmas time, that may also spark a conversation about conservation with a gentle reminder that our trees were once living in the wild.

Garry Parsons

The picture book I have chosen is Melrose and Croc by Emma Chichester Clark. A wonderfully tender story of kindness and friendship set in a palm tree lined coastal town, which you know would be gloriously hot and sunny in the summer. 

Melrose, the yellow dog, has just moved into a smart apartment in the centre of town and Little Green Croc has arrived to visit Santa at the department store there. 
Unfortunately for Croc, he is too late to see Santa, "It is Christmas Eve" the store manager reminds him. Feeling foolish, Croc wanders the town until he comes across skaters enjoying the ice around a huge Christmas Tree. Hoping to find a new friend to spend the holidays with, Melrose also ends up at the ice rink. The two collide, Crash!, into each other and the spark of a new friendship is born. 

The tree in this book is truly wonderful, as is the Christmas atmosphere. I know I share a love of this book with fellow Den member, Juliet Clare Bell.

Happy Christmas! 

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