From School Library Journal
Grade 1-5–Could a middle-aged woman and a five-year-old-boy plant and care for more than 600 trees? Perhaps that is one of the miracles of the holidays. Wilma is tired of growing petunias and sunflowers, but can't decide what to cultivate next. Then she realizes that she has everything she needs to grow Christmas trees, including an enthusiastic helper–her neighbor Parker. She orders 62 dozen small starts of balsam, or five-year-old seedlings, and she and the boy plant them. Finally, after five challenging years, they have trees to sell. That Christmas, they think about the 566 families who have their trees and place an order for 83 dozen new seedlings to plant in the spring. This lovely tale celebrates intergenerational friendship and determination, growth and nature, and the joy of the holiday season. Root's graceful watercolor and gouache illustrations beautifully capture these elements and more, and an author's note gives additional information about Christmas trees and how they grow.–Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
As in their previous collaboration, Pumpkins (1992), Ray and Root once again focus on a holiday crop. Wilma, a gray-haired gardener, decides to plant a huge field of Christmas trees. She orders hundreds of small starts of balsam and enlists the help of Parker, the little boy next door: “He was five, like the seedlings.” Parker helps measure straight rows and dig holes for 744 trees, and he continues to help through the following years. Root’s appealing watercolor-and-gouache illustrations invite inspection, from scenes of the field in different seasons to those that show Wilma and Parker’s harmonious teamwork over time. Ray gracefully conveys an acceptance of natural cycles: some trees are lost to “deer that dug in the snow to chew the sweet green tips.” The year that Parker is 10, the team sells their first 566 trees and then, looking to the future, order dozens of new seedlings. All the numbers add up to an added math theme in a story that lovingly depicts the hard work, cooperation, and patience necessary to grow crops. An author’s note offers more about Christmas-tree history and farming. Grades K-2. --Abby Nolan