A nice introduction to the origins of a cherished tradition for many

THE QUEEN AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE

QUEEN CHARLOTTE'S GIFT TO ENGLAND

A German-born princess uses her memories of home to create an English Christmas tradition.

Born into royalty in Mecklenburg, Germany, in 1744, Princess Charlotte prefers being outdoors to going to balls. She loves trees, and at Christmas, she always brings a yew branch indoors to decorate. A marriage proposal from King George III of England means leaving her home at the age of 17. Lonely and not speaking a word of English, she relies on the precious things she brought along, including a yew branch. “With this, she could make magic in her new home.” In 1800, having borne 15 children of her own, she holds a Christmas party for 100 children to ring in the new century, decking the halls with a large tree from the palace grounds. Simple prose and light watercolors keep this retelling of historical events within the understanding of children who like a good princess story. The book’s creators don’t shy away from including some children of color among white ones—this was, after all, during the time of slavery—but the text leaves some doubt about how, exactly, they fit into the group of “children at court.” An afterword provides context to the queen’s life and times, including the information that she was an abolitionist.

A nice introduction to the origins of a cherished tradition for many . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6636-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.

RED AND LULU

A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Kid-friendly dark humor.

POULTRYGEIST

The chicken crosses the road…and arrives on the other side as a ghost.

The action kicks off before the title page when the chicken crossing the road winds up a splatter of feathers against the grille of a tractor trailer. When its ghost rises from the squished remains, it meets a host of other animal ghosts that encourage the new poultrygeist to start getting scary. They probably didn’t realize, however, that they’d be the ones to be frightened. Geron’s text is full of punny lines like “It’s time to get foul, fowl!” and “Ghosts of a feather haunt together!” Midway through, the poultrygeist turns to readers to make sure they’re not too scared. This is a nice touch, maintaining engagement while also giving more timid readers time to take a beat. Oswald’s illustrations display masterful use of color, with bright, ghostly animals against a dark, often all-black background, the dialogue shown in colors that correspond to the speakers. These ghosts do become scary but not enough to completely terrorize readers. Oswald’s skill is seen in full effect, as readers witness only the animal ghosts’ reactions to the poultrygeist’s scariest face, building suspense for the full reveal. This book is just right for kids easing into the slightly scary and macabre but who still want a safe and fun read.

Kid-friendly dark humor. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1050-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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