A classic Christmas choice for this, the day before Christmas Eve.

Written by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Jim LaMarche
Harper Collins, March, 1954 (text original), 1982 (text renewed), 2005 (illustrations)
Suitable for:  Ages 3-8
Themes/Topics:  Christmas, Nature, Family, Children with Disabilities, Seasons, Winter
Opening and brief synopsis: From Booklist: “(The story recounts) how a living pine tree is brought indoors each Christmas and how it bears witness to the miraculous healing of a sick little boy. Even if children are confused by the nature of the bedridden boy’s “lame leg,” which readers in the 1950s probably interpreted as polio, Brown’s distinctive, rhythmic storytelling (“Seven times the Summer had droned its hot bee-buzzing days around him. Seven Autumns had whirled their falling leaves and milkweed parachutes past his head”) reaffirms her legendary status in children’s literature. Casting an equally potent spell are LaMarche’s acrylic-and-pencil scenes…”
Activities:  Reading A-Z.com has a lesson plan available. Because this is an adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson story, The Fir Tree, a good exercise might be to read both and compare and contrast the two.
Why I Like This Book: This book is so lyrical.  In some ways sad, but ultimately hopeful, I get teary every time I read it.  It doesn’t hurt that the little boy in the illustrations, so beautifully rendered by Jim LaMarche, looks so similar to my own little boy with his big blue eyes.  This is a book that will tug at your heartstrings year-round.
This will be my last Perfect Picture Book Friday post of 2011, as next week we will be up in Breckenridge to celebrate the New Year and the beginning of ski season (at least for us!).  I’ll be back with more in 2012. 

For more books with resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books!

Categories: Authors, Children's Books, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Picture Books · Tags: , , , , , , ,



  1. Beautiful selection for PPB! Such a lovely classic. Should be on the shelves of every kid. Nice review!

  2. Julie, we have this book in our library-I really like your idea to compare and contrast the Hans Christian Anderson version of the story to this one. Lesson plans for next year for sure! Thank you 🙂

  3. I can’t believe I haven’t read this! I will certainly have to – it sounds wonderful. The language you quoted is absolutely beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing this, and have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful time with your family!

  4. I’m going to look this book up in our children’s library right this very minute. It looks like a winner!
    Have a wonderful time at Breckenridge…I haven’t skied for a few years now. Enjoy, Julie!!

  5. I grew up in the Margaret Wise Brown era — how did I miss this book? It sounds lovely, and I, too, like the compare-and-contrast idea.

    Have a great Christmas, and a great ski-trip! “See” you in 2012! What an awesome year it’s going to be!

  6. One of my favorite books too–and your description captures the wonder of the book perfectly!

  7. As soon as I saw this post, I realised I should have looked back further in my blog as I too have reviewed this lovely enchanting book. So glad you loved it enough to bring it to the list Julie, I so love the pictures, and sweet message.

  8. That boy really does look like your son, how wonderful! Thanks for a lovely recommendation and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  9. The illustration on the cover looks great! I like illustrations in older books!
    Merry Christmas!!

  10. I would love to read this story to my kids. The healing power of nature and the a story of Christmas seem like a fantastic mix. Thank you for sharing. Enjoy your ski holiday! I’m jealous.

  11. I’ve never seen this book. It looks wonderful! Have a Merry Christmas!

  12. I’ve never read this book either, but can’t wait too!
    Love Jim LaMarche’s artwork!

    Has anyone read Jim LaMarche’s pb UP!? He both wrote and illustrated.

    Happy Holidays to all and to all . . . I gotta go 😀
    (Guests are stirring.)

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