A young child narrates a year’s worth of attempts to sow fanciful trees by directing increasingly larger items into an ever widening hole in his backyard.
In January, the narrator drops their “best marble” into the narrow crevice, the bottom of which is hidden below the picture plane. In February readers learn, “Marble trees don’t grow overnight,” but “Maybe some candy will grow.” As seasons change, the hole widens—inextricably—and visual perspective shifts, with the child (and a deciduous tree on the other side of the hole) appearing ever tinier as the things tossed into it (a grand piano, a freight train, a rocket) grow more substantial. In November, the hole’s so big that the moon fits in. In December, the child lists the 11 previous no-show trees and looks “in a book to figure out what to do. The only thing that fits in a black hole is a star.” The kid catches a five-pointed one and drops it down. “I can’t wait to see my star tree.” The enormous star dominates the page, the walls of the hole pushed to the margins and the child and tree minuscule—and when readers open the vertical gatefold they’ll see a tall, star-topped Christmas tree, festooned with glowing moons, flashlights, marbles, candy, and all the other pitched items. Any intimation of cosmic transcendence is subverted by this earthbound, holiday-themed pièce de résistance—at once gimmicky and anticlimactic. The narrator is white.
Twee and inessential, at Christmas or any other time of year. (Picture book. 3-5)