A small, crooked fir tree becomes a Christmas tree for a homeless boy and then grows into a huge and healthy tree in a park.
The scraggly tree begins life as a crooked seedling on a Christmas tree farm. It is mistakenly sent to a city along with larger trees and given away on Christmas Eve to a boy who is living under a railway bridge. He plants the tree in a small box filled with muddy dirt and decorates the tree with candles, and his glowing Christmas tree draws a huge crowd of city folk who join together singing Christmas carols. A street sweeper later finds the discarded, half-dead tree and plants it in a park, where it miraculously grows tall and healthy. While the detailed watercolor illustrations and large trim size are appealing, there are some logical gaps in the text and puzzling inconsistencies between text and illustrations. For example, the text indicates the mature tree is not “big and tall” but “at least cheerfully stout,” and the illustrations clearly show a very tall tree. While the tree survives against all odds, children will wonder what happened to the homeless boy and care about his welfare more than the future of a tree. The implication in the final image that the boy has grown and had children of his own is subtle and easy to miss. The boy and most of the other characters are white; a few people in crowd scenes have dark skin.
Attractive illustrations fail to save an ultimately unsatisfying story. (Picture book. 5-8)