A boy named Fritz selects and decorates a Christmas tree in this quiet tale of enjoying the holiday as a family.
Fritz, his parents, and their dog drive out to the country to cut down a Christmas tree together, presumably for the first time, judging from the level of excitement in the text: “It’s a real tree!” Back home, Fritz is in charge of decorating the tree and soon discovers there aren’t enough ornaments for their huge tree. He “makes an amazing discovery—almost anything can be an ornament!” Fritz adds toys, drawings, and gingerbread cookies to the tree, making it his own creation. The family’s Christmas celebrations are centered on the tree, and Fritz is saddened when the holiday season is over and the dried-out tree must be taken away to be chipped. He overcomes his melancholy by keeping one small, bare branch for his bedside table, decorating it with a few special items. The understated text doesn’t point out that Fritz has learned how to keep the Christmas spirit alive, but that message is conveyed in a subtle and original way. Subdued ink-and-watercolor illustrations use cool tones and hazy backgrounds to create a quiet atmosphere with mysterious overtones. There’s a bittersweet sense that the magic of the Christmas season can’t last, underscored by the litter of dead needles left behind by the tree, but it is countered by Fritz’s ingenuity.
This restrained, thoughtful story effectively captures some of the contradictory emotions a child may feel during the Christmas season. (Picture book. 3-6)