#997 – A Very Special Christmas Tree by Debra Buchanan and Nataly Savitskaya

a-very-special-christmas-tree-poster-medium A Very Special Christmas Tree
Written by Debra Buchanan
Illustrated by Nataly Savitskaya
Dancing Pen Publishers  11/20/2015
978-0-578-17046-6
32 pages    Ages 4—8

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“Deep in the forest where the fairies dwell, a little pine tree grows among her lush and lofty neighbors. Her branches droop, her needles are sparse, and every other tree towers above her. Her greatest wish is to grow taller and stronger so she will be chosen to stand in a special place for the Christmas season.

“After every other tree finds a glorious home for the holiday, the little tree is disappointed to find where she has been taken. But with the help of a kind man and a wise angel the little tree discovers the true spirit of Christmas and that her greatest wish has actually come true.” [INSIDE JACKET]

Review
Deep in the forest a group of pine trees grew tall and strong. They had but one destiny, to become a lovely Christmas trees. With wondrous lights and shiny ornaments, the trees would be a beautiful celebration of the season—if chosen. Most of these trees, deep in this forest, grew tall and strong, except for one. This tree was small, with “droopy limbs and sparse needles.” She longed to be in a place of honor, but feared she never would never be chosen. Even the fairies, who gathered in the trees to enjoy their lush branches, doubted the little tree, laughing and calling it names. “Look at this pipsqueak. She will hardly be ready for Christmas!” The fairies giggles and “the Little Tree’s heart sank.”
a-very-special-christmas-tree-guts-low-res6Soon Thanksgiving came and went. Visitors began choosing their perfect Christmas tree. Little Tree prayed each time a buyer walked near its small frame on its way to a large, beautiful tree. Among the trees of this forest, many would stand in the largest places of honor: Saks Fifth Avenue, the Lincoln Center, The Plaza Hotel, and atop the entrance to Radio City Music Hall. Soon all the trees had found their place of honor, all but the Little Tree. It stood alone in the forest. Will anyone choose the Little Tree, or will its fate become only a wistful dream?

A Very Special Christmas Tree’s Little Tree reminds me of a Charlie Brown tree. Little Tree’s branches, “scraggly and somewhat misshapen” were “weak and just drooped.” Little Tree was losing hope and its “heart sank.” The Little Tree wanted chosen so badly she prayed each time someone walked her way, “Please, please pick me.”
a-very-special-christmas-tree-guts-low-res10Finally, a young man “carefully placed” Little Tree in his truck for the ride home. But Little Tree was disappointed. Her “place of honor” was not some fancy place in New York City or even a public building in Hoboken. Little Tree‘s new home, her “place of honor,” is a humble home; a home inviting the homeless in for food and cheer. Little Tree feels cheated.

The biggest problem with the story is not where Little Tree ends up for the holidays. From the beginning the story makes little sense and will have children confused. Little Tree is identical to those trees surrounding her. She does not have “droopy limbs and sparse needles” nor are her branches “scraggly and somewhat misshapen.” Little Tree is just as lovely as the surrounding trees. She is cute. If anything, Little Tree has an identity problem rooted in her mind (she has a heart, why not a mind). I understand the story the author is trying to tell. It really is a Charlie Brown story, but the illustrations do not tell this story.
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I really, really wanted to like A Very Special Christmas Tree. It is a beautiful picture book and tells a wonderful story of acceptance, identity, and heart. Unfortunately, the difference between Little Tree and the other trees is minimal at best. The story children will hear and what the story they will see have two different main characters. Maybe the themes of homelessness and people being the same, rich or poor will shine through.
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Debra Buchanan is a very good writer. She knows how to write for children. She can weave a very good story. If this were not a picture book, images tell the same story—albeit in their own way—the two must tell the same story in different medium, I would rave about A Very Special Christmas Tree and Little Tree’s place of honor.

A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS TREE. Text and illustrations copyright © 2015 by AUTHOR. Illustrations copyright © 201 by Nataly Savitskaya. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Dancing Pen Publishers, San Diego, CA.

AmazonDancing Pen Publishers

Add A Very Special Christmas Tree to Your Goodreads Shelf HERE.

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Reprinted with permission from A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS TREE © 2015 by Debra Buchanan, Dancing Pen Publishers, a company owned by Debra Buchanan, the author, Illustrations © 2015 by Nataly Savitskaya.

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Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

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A Very Special Christmas Tree
Written by Debra Buchanan
Illustrated by Nataly Savitskaya
Dancing Pen Publishers 11/20/2015
9780578170466

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6 thoughts on “#997 – A Very Special Christmas Tree by Debra Buchanan and Nataly Savitskaya

  1. Yes, I was surprised by the illustrations right away. It still is a sweet story, though. Can’t believe you’re reviewing Christmas books already. Don’t want to even think that yet. It means cold weather is on its way.

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    • I agree, it is early for Christmas books, but the author requested the date. I heard on the news the other day there were less than 50 shopping days until Christmas. I don’t know if that is right, but it made me think. I love Christmas (though not as much as when I was a kid) but I would be okay with celebrating every other year.

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  2. Sounds so sweet, but you’re right about the pictures. I will say, I did not notice that as I looked at the pages. I guess the fact that the tree was smaller was enough for me. I like where it ended up, though. I didn’t see that coming.

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