Author: Delia Huddy / Illustrator: Emily Sutton
The Story: A little fir tree, the runt of the tree plantation, is taken to the city to be sold as a Christmas tree. By Christmas Eve it is still unsold as no one wants to buy such a small and deformed tree. Just before the shop closes for Christmas, a homeless boy asks the shopkeeper if he can have the tree. He plants it in a cardboard box and takes it to where he sleeps with other homeless people. A passerby gives him some coins and he buys candles to decorate the tree. They start to sing around the tree and more and more people gather to enjoy the singing. Finally, the tree finds itself at the centre of a magical Christmas Eve. With Christmas over, the boy moves on but a road sweeper rescues the tree and plants it in the corner of a park where it grows into a stout tree, a home for birds and other animals.
Not only is this beautifully illustrated with loads of things to look at on each page, it is also a moving and gentle story with a touching message at its heart. When I shared this with a seven year old, the idea that some people had nowhere to live other than a cardboard box was clearly a whole new idea. Nowadays, Christmas can tend to be a time of excess and consumption rather than a celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is wonderful to have a simple Christmas story that is so full of hope.
Can you describe a favourite illustration or give a favourite quote from the story and tell us why you chose it.
“The candles burned steadily and the old man played and still the people sang. The little fir tree felt it would burst with happiness, for it was obvious the boy had forgotten that tonight he would be sleeping in a cardboard box under the railway arch, and that tomorrow he would eat not turkey, but soup in a soup kitchen if he was lucky.”
This particular scene in the story never fails to brings tears to my eyes (okay, maybe I am a bit soppy!). The little tree is finally valued and able to bring happiness to so many. Singing Christmas carols in the company of others used to be a common activity at Christmas time but sadly seems less common these days. The fir tree has caused people to pause in their Christmas rushing and come together for some carols. Wonderful!
Cath Jones is the author of picture book Bonkers About Beetroot. It is a wacky story of an out of control beetroot, an optimistic zebra and a pessimistic penguin with an ending that might surprise you! Cath has also published ten educational readers and writes middle grade adventure stories for Serial Mash on the 2simple school resources website. She loves sharing her stories and doing craft and creative writing activities with children and adults of all ages!
She lives in Kent with her partner and a high maintenance kitten. When not writing, she grows mutant vegetables on a windy allotment overlooking the sea.
Which book is on your Christmas wishlist this year?
Every year I like to buy at least one new Christmas picture book. This year it will be The Queen’s Present by Steve Antony. I have also ordered Hopscotch and the Christmas tree by Katy Segrove and illustrated by Katerina Vykhodtseva from my wonderful local library. I’m hoping to find The Snowflake Mistake by Lou Treleaven too.
2017 Story Snug Advent on Pinterest