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The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story (Picture Puffin Books) Paperback – October 1, 1996
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Acclaimed author Gloria Houston has written a tale that is as joyful and timeless as Christmas itself. Jewel-like paintings by two-time Caldecott Medal winner Barbara Cooney capture all of the season's warmth and mountain flavor. "A heartwarming holiday story, simply told and graced with true sentiment rather than sentimentality."--Kirkus Reviews. Publisher's Weekly Bestseller. Booklist Best Books of the Decade. Full color.
- Format: Paperback
- Publication Date: 10/1/1996
- Pages: 32
- Reading Level: Age 5 and Up
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The time is during the Great War, the war to end all wars, World War I. The place is in the Appalachian Mountains near a small community. A little girl's father, a person who she loves dearly, takes her into the mountains to find a perfect Christmas Tree for their church; it is their families turn that year to provide the tree. High on a mountain; a crag, the tree is found. Father and daughter will return to harvest it when the time is right.
Ah, but before Christmas, father is called to war; he is gone. His last promise is that the tree will be provided by his family. Time passes. The Father does not return. Finally, the train which is carrying all the returning men from the area pulls into town. The father is not on it.
Christmas is closer and closer. Will the tree be provided?
This is truly a heartwarming story and catches the true spirit of Christmas so very, very well. It is the story of sacrificing, giving and pure love.
From a historical angle, the author has captured the period perfectly. I was absolutely delighted to come across words and terms such as "poke," "crags," "britches," and so many more. The author has capture the people and culture of that day, time and place perfectly. We will see days like that no more, but we have and will see the same emotions raging through families. This story is oh so pertinent to our current day and time, our current wars, and the families caught up in them. Times where hard then, and times are hard now, but that is no excuse not to love and believe with an intense and dignity; to feel the true spirit of Christmas and all it means.
I recently heard this work read to a class by a wonderful teacher. I tell you, the hair on the back of my neck actually twitched. I had not read or listened to this story in quite a number of years but the words kept flowing into my memories like they had been etched there upon the first reading.
Do yourself a favor folks, get this one and read it to a child...hey, read it to yourself if no wee one is available...you will be richer for it.