This book’s two-part message is fairly straightforward: It’s always best to listen to your parents, and relationships are more important than pride. The way this lesson is delivered will leave some particularly inquisitive youngsters with questions – many families view getting a Christmas tree as a joyous tradition, but the trees in this tale aim to avoid becoming a holiday centerpiece all costs, making the human family seem almost villainous by comparison. After he “learns his lesson,” Little Stevie also has a fortuitous encounter with a gnomish, magical mystery man who bursts up out of the ground, which some older kids will find more confusing than cute.
Malane Newman’s vibrant illustrations are sweet and charming, softening the tale’s somewhat menacing undertones. The trees have human-like faces and arms, allowing them to communicate with each other and express emotions that children will recognize, while still remaining verdantly tree-like. On the whole, younger kids will enjoy this book about accepting parental advice and learning the drawbacks of selfishness and arrogance – though parents should be prepared to assuage any concerns it may spark, particularly the downside of ephemeral displays of festivity and what it means to be “ugly” in the first place.
Takeaway: Told from a tree’s point of view, this curious seasonal picture book will help young kids learn the importance of accepting parental advice.
Great for fans of: Leslie Crawford’s Spring the Rescue Pig, Loren Long’s Little Tree.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: B