A lyrical testament to peace.
Nothing definitively marks this as a Christmas book, but readers may be cued to understand it as such due to the opening reference “to a star— / a new star, / barely visible, / yet larger than any before” that Bear spies “early one December morning.” This star signals that “it was time,” though for what remains a mystery until the book’s end. First Bear searches for “a tree— / a tree that would be strong, / a tree that would be tall, / a tree that would be the center / of all to come.” An ideal evergreen appears, again evoking Christmas, but with subtlety. The text and the oil paintings, which have a soft visual texture, then combine to depict a peaceable kingdom of animals from different habitats gathering around the tree before diverse people assemble, too. Ultimately, they come “to the tree / … / under a star / … / because it was time…” and then a final page turn delivers the concluding words, “for peace.” The accompanying illustration shows a woman with light-brown skin and black, straight hair holding a swaddled baby as she gazes up at the star. The scene evokes Madonna-and-child imagery, but it resists such an easy parallel with the inclusion of other figures: Behind the pair stands a child with similar coloring, before them a fawn, and cardinals fly through the snowy, starlit sky.
Serene yet enigmatic. (Picture book. 4-7)