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Red and Lulu Hardcover – September 19, 2017
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Tavares (‘Crossing Niagara’) lets the holiday note waft lightly, bringing equal cheer to the celebration of pair-bonding and New York City.
—The New York Times Book Review
A really engaging visual reading experience – moving from overviews to close ups, vignettes to double page spreads. It’s a very dynamic read – dramatic and tender by turns. My kind of visual storytelling!
Tavares (Lighter than Air) captures Red’s frantic search for Lulu, following the truck to New York City...The birds’ reunion is poignant and well earned, and their decision to stay in the city after the holidays poignantly shows how seeming misfortune can lead to unexpected and rewarding opportunities.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Tavares’s realistic watercolor and gouache paintings make the most of dramatic birds’-eye perspectives, while the story provides a child-friendly backstory for an annual NYC holiday attraction.
—The Horn Book
Tavares’s detailed watercolor-and-gouache illustrations expertly capture the seasonal atmosphere...A lovely New York story.
—School Library Journal
…a joyful and affecting picture book written and illustrated by Matt Tavares.
—The Wall Street Journal
With its bird’s-eye views, this wonderfully imagined, gorgeously illustrated ode to the world-famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will have young travelers begging Mom and Dad for a trip to the Big Apple.
Gorgeous artwork, with multiple wordless-pages, advances the tale. Best of all, kids will cheer at the dramatic moment when Red finds Lulu.
A Christmas book you should probably put on your permanent shelf...This is one of the best of the year.
—Betsy Bird, A Fuse #8 Production
A touching, beautifully illustrated story.
About the Author
Matt Tavares is the author-illustrator of Crossing Niagara, Henry Aaron’s Dream, There Goes Ted Williams, Becoming Babe Ruth, and Growing Up Pedro, as well as Zachary’s Ball, Oliver’s Game, and Mudball. He is the illustrator of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, Over the River and Through the Wood, Lady Liberty by Doreen Rappaport, The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup, and Jubilee! by Alicia Potter. Matt Tavares lives in Ogunquit, Maine.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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Red and Lulu are two cardinals who have found the perfect home in a large evergreen outside a family’s house in the suburbs. Their favorite time of year is winter when they can hear carolers singing about their tree. “O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, Thy leaves are so unchanging…” This winter, however, Red and Lulu are in for a terrible surprise when their tree is cut down while Red is out scavenging for breakfast. The scene is so powerful, it is presented in a wordless series of three panels featuring the tree coming down and Lulu hiding in a hole in the tree. Red returns to see the tree being driven away on a large truck and does his best to pursue Lulu, but loses her once the truck enters New York City. During Red’s search, several NYC icons are highlighted such as the lions outside the New York Public Library, the Empire State Building, and Times Square. Just as he is about to give up hope, Red hears their special song and follows the sound to Rockefeller Center. There, Red sees their tree lit up in beautiful lights, and in a joyous scene, he is reunited with Lulu. After the holidays, the birds remain in the city making a new home in Central Park. Each winter, however, they make a special trip to Rockefeller Center to sing their favorite Christmas carol.
The first time I read this book to my two-year-old and five-year-old, they both fell eerily silent as they watched the birds’ home get cut down and then taken away. I could feel their nerves as Red searched for Lulu and my daughter actually started clapping when they were reunited. I love how Matt Tavares was able to create such drama with succinct text and charming illustrations. We all enjoyed reading the author’s note giving more detail about the tradition of the Rockefeller Tree and love how the tree in the story was taken away to create wood for Habitat for Humanity.
Every Christmas their home would be decorated with lights and the birds loved listening to the people singing below. Then one year the unthinkable happened, as Red went out to fetch breakfast and Lulu stayed behind, their tree was cut down and taken away.
Red tried to follow the truck, but he couldn’t fly fast enough. He has lost his home and Lulu too, what was he going to do?
Red and Lulu is one of the most gorgeous children’s books that I have had the pleasure of reading. The story is so poignant and beautifully told. It is also very emotional too.
What really makes this book stand out from the crowd is how spellbinding the illustrations are. They capture the emotions of the story perfectly. The snowy scenes are just exquisite, and look very Christmassy. I especially love the last picture with the Rockefeller tree and the ice rink.
This is a book that will be adored by little children, and one I can see being asked to be read over and over again. I also love that Matt Tavares has added information at the back about the annual Rockefeller tree.
Book Reviewed on Whispering Stories Book Blog
*I received a free copy of this book, which I voluntarily reviewed
I'm a big fan of picture books that take young readers to places they may never get to experience themselves & here's a terrific one. Not every kid will get to experience NYC but in this book, they will.