The Beautiful Christmas Tree

When a city street undergoes gentrification, its elegant residents are disdainful of unfashionable Mr. Crockett, who moves in and cleans up the smallest, least-desirable brownstone on the block. They don’t approve of him washing windows; they don’t approve of him planting a spindly little pine tree; they certainly think he is crazy to sprinkle bread crumbs under the tree for birds to eat. The man, however, believes that “Beauty is as beauty does,” and his loving attention culminates, years later, when carolers stop by his majestic tree, startling the birds up onto the branches like living ornaments. The carolers and birds sing together “a chorus of love, and Mr. Crockett [knows] that this is what Christmas [is] meant to be.” Nascimbene’s watercolors generally appear opposite text, or in small boxes above or below text. A cool palette of darker colors predominates. In the initial illustrations, cars and “elegant neighbors” appear to be circa 1940; as time progresses, the story takes place in modern times. A quiet celebration of the love and care necessary for nurturing living things. (Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Pages: 32

Ages: 4–8