The Carpenter’s Gift: a Christmas tale about the Rockefeller Center Tree by David Rbel

 The Carpenter’s Gift: a Christmas tale about the Rockefeller Center Tree, David Rbel, Random House, 2011

Format: Picture Book

Rating: 1-5 (5 is excellent or a Starred review) 3

Genre:  Holiday

What did you like about the book?  This book presents a fictionalized tale about the origins of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree that highlights the idea of passing on kindness.  A poor young boy and his dad bring  spruce trees into the city to sell during the Depression.   The construction workers digging the foundation for R.C. erect the largest one there.  As we learn in the information that follows the story, the first tree was erected by these workers in 1931.   The fictionalized account of young Henry allows for the pass it on idea and links the story to Habitat for Humanity.  The construction workers show up at Henry’s shack and help build the family a new home.  Since 2007, the wood from the Rockefeller Center tree is donated to Habitat for Humanity.  Jim LaMarche’s color pencil illustrations are full of life and character.  The back material gives the true history of the tree as well as information about Habitat For Humanity. This is a holiday story that fulfills the spirit of the season.

What didn’t you like about the book?  Nothing.

To whom would you recommend this book?  (Read-alikes if you can think of them) I would recommend this to someone looking for a non-traditional holiday story as well as children interested in the history of some of our holiday traditions.  It could be paired with Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert E. Barry for holiday stories about giving back rather than receiving.

Who should buy this book? (Middle schools, high schools, small libraries, all libraries, etc.)  Public libraries

Where would you shelve it and why?  This would be shelved with my Christmas picture books.

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Perhaps if you are lookig for a new holiday story.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Catherine Coyne, Ames Free Library

Date of review: 9/22/2012

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About Sharon Colvin

Sharon Colvin is past chair of the Youth Services Section of MLA and a Youth Librarian in Chelmsford, MA.
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