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A Solstice Tree for Jenny (Young Readers) Paperback – September 1, 2001


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A Solstice Tree for Jenny (Young Readers) + The Winter Solstice + The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
  • Series: Young Readers
  • Paperback: 49 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; English Language edition (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573929301
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573929301
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ages 5-8. There are a number of things wrong with this book--among them, the drippy title. But there's virtually nothing around like it, and the unique point of view is its strength. Jenny, and her parents, who are archaeologists, have never before been home during the holiday season. Now that they are, Jenny notices for the first time that her house is not decorated; her parents don't celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza, and she doesn't understand why. The text is purposive, but nevertheless the conversation rings true as Jenny's secular parents explain their beliefs. Jenny is particularly insistent to know whether they believe in the "same good things" as the neighbors. Her mother says that they do, but they don't believe a god created the world. "We think we can be very good people and know what is right to do and not do without having to follow rules that some people believe were written down long ago by their god or by important people in their religion." Throughout, Jenny's parents are sympathetic to their daughter's feelings, and Jenny's questions are thought provoking. Still, she wants a celebration, and when she suggests a winter solstice holiday, her parents gladly agree. Most secular families aren't so strident as Jenny's about holiday observation, but children who are raised without religion will be glad to find a book that mirrors their experience. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"...helpful for children in humanist families, but it should also provide food for thought for kids in religious families." -- About.com

"...offers a unique point of view which children in similar circumstances will appreciate." -- Jewish Currents, Nov.-Dec. 2002

"...sensitively deals with the concept of other people's gods, religious traditions and beliefs..." -- BookReview.com, December 2001

"a wonderful book for sharing with those who do not celebrate Christmas...a must for elementary teachers..." -- Church & Synagogue Libraries

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Chris Struble on November 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is the story of a young girl, who believes her house is the ugliest on the block because there are no lights, or menorahs to decorate the windows. Her parents explain why they don't celebrate the holidays like their neighbors, and even though Jenny understands she still feels left out. The next day at school she tells a teacher about her problem. The teacher gives her a book of solstice stories. Jenny reads the stories and then shares the book with her parents and asks them what they believe. Together the family decides to put up a solstice tree decorated with slips of paper that have what they believe in written on them. The parents recapture the joy they used to feel at this time of year, and pass that joy to their daughter. Jenny can't wait to share her solstice tree and its messages with all of her friends.
This was a well written book that explained humanist beliefs in a clear and easy to understand way. It in no way attacked those who celebrate religious holidays but explained clearly why those who are not religious don't celebrate these days. It also showed how so many of our beliefs are alike, the difference being in the way we learn them.
I believe this story and the tree it talks about will become a tradition in our home, one that our girls can proudly tell their friends and teachers about. Maybe with each telling of the story of their solstice tree they will bridge the gap of intolerance.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Reading makes me sleepy on February 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is some what hokey but it does accomplish what it sets out to do and in a very simple easy to understand fashion. The kids weren't much interested in it, but that was probably because we were trying to ween them off of x-mas and into solstice which was a lot for them to consume.
It will come in handy in the future (every year for a while) to help them understand and feel better about their own families traditions while being surrounded by friends who do it a little different.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By "joezemel" on April 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
My 8 year old loved this book. It shows the real issue that many freethinking families have with the holiday season, and an very innovative way that one young girl created a new holiday tradition around her beliefs. It also shows children why various religions have their holidays and beliefs, and why non-believers are different, as they do what is right because it's the right thing to do, not because they are afraid of a god.
This is an excellent book for children from 5-15.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Erika Nelson on December 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is absolutely perfect for the growing number of families who don't feel the need to participate in religion just because so many other people do. It is smart, genuine and honest. I hope that this is a genre that continues to grow and I can only imagine the hardships that the author must have had to endure just to get this published.

Some of the other reviewers prove exactly why this book is important. Their compulsion to denigrate this book shows how nervous it makes them to think that there are people who don't agree with them about their worldviews. The reviewer who had the idea that the book is teaching kids to worship sun gods is hilarious. The point of that discussion obviously went right over that reader's head. The point was that Jenny learned that, in the past, people made up stories to explain what they didn't understand and used festivals and lights to bring joy and comfort in times of fear and stress. She is interested in capturing that joy and comfort, not in worshiping sun gods.

This book does an excellent job of pointing out how people can find all of the good things that religion can bring (charity, kindness, tradition, celebration, joy) without having to participate in religion. For those reviewers who said that the author just must not understand how loving your religion is, your response is exactly the problem. You have no respect for other people's experiences or decisions. It's great that YOU have found such comfort in your beliefs, but not everyone feels the same as you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary Washington on December 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is good for any family with slightly different beliefs and traditions. Great for children who wished their taditions could be more accepted.
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