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A Christmas Tale about the Rockefeller Center Tree

by David Rubel, illustrated by Jim LaMarche

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-375-86922-8
Publisher: Random House

An elderly man named Henry recalls the Christmas season of 1931 in this relatively long story that connects the Depression era to Habitat for Humanity via the enormous Christmas trees at Rockefeller Center in New York City.

A boy of 9 or 10, Henry lives with his parents in a tiny, unheated shack in the country. Henry helps his father cut down evergreen trees to take to the city to sell, and there they befriend some men working on the construction of Rockefeller Center. Together they decorate a makeshift Christmas tree; Henry’s father gives the last of the trees to the workers. On Christmas morning the workers respond by arriving at Henry’s home with materials to build a new house. The boy receives a hammer from one of the men, and Henry grows up to be a skilled carpenter himself. In a Dickensian series of coincidences, a huge tree on Henry’s land is chosen as a Christmas tree for Rockefeller Center, with wood milled from the tree to be given to a family for their new house. Henry meets the young girl whose family will receive the wood and passes his treasured hammer on to her. Luminous illustrations in a large format have a muted, shimmering quality, especially in the concluding view of the magical tree at Rockefeller Center.

A sentimental but touching story with beautifully realized illustrations. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-9)