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Interesting Historical Fiction Book about Christmas
on September 20, 2011
"The Christmas Tree Ship" is a beautifully illustrated children's book. The oil and acrylic color illustrations by Chris Ellison are superb and capture the emotions of the story. To add to the realism of the story some of the paintings are done in sepia tones to convey the early 1900's era. The story is fiction but is based on historical facts. The author, Carol Crane, remembers the tales that her grandfather used to tell her and her brother as they spent Christmas with him at the lighthouse on the shores of Lake Michigan. Carol Crane bases this book on one of her grandfather's stories about Captain Herman Schuenemann and his Great Lakes Schooner, "Rouse Simmons". Each year Captain Schuenemann took his schooner to the shores of Northern Michigan and loaded it with thousands of Christmas trees and then transported them to Chicago where he sold them for 50 cents and a dollar. He also often gave them away to poor families. You will want to read this book to find out more about the adventures of Captain Schuenemann and his Christmas tree ship, "Rouse Simmons" and how his legacy lived on even after he was gone. You will also want to find out why they display a Christmas tree atop the lighthouse each year.
Carol Crane vividly recounts this experience from her childhood memory of spending Christmas with her grandfather. Being a lighthouse enthusiast, I can't tell you how excited I was when I opened the book and found that the story setting was at a lighthouse on the shores of Lake Michigan. I would highly recommend this delightful Christmas book. This book would be an ideal book to read to a third to fifth grade class. It could be read in 20 to 30 minutes including the time for showing the illustrations. Anyone who enjoys Christmas or nautical stories will enjoy this book.