The Christmas Eve Tree

illus. by Emily Sutton. 40p. Candlewick. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763679170.
PreS-Gr 2—This British import relies on beautiful illustrations to energize a slight tale. A stunted pine is harvested and rejected by everyone until a homeless boy takes it, plants it in a box, and decorates it with candles, creating a joyful Christmas moment in the busy wintry city. The tree, whose thoughts provide the focus of the book, is happy because the boy has forgotten that he will be sleeping in a box and eating from a soup kitchen. "The magic of Christmas Eve was everywhere." But a few days later the boy walks away, leaving the tree for dead…until a kind street sweeper, seeing a green shoot, plants it in a park where, against all odds, it grows and has a happy life. Sutton's folkloric illustrations have great charm and are full of interesting details, although they don't support the notion that this clearly chopped off tree has the roots to enable it to grow once planted.
VERDICT This frankly sentimental holiday title requires a suspension of disbelief to buy into the Christmas magic.

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