Sunday, December 13, 2009

Children's Book Monday

This is one of only two books I've found that Ms. Noble has both written and illustrated, and it is a beauty, both in words and in art. The perfect fireplace book, or lunch table story, or sittin' on the back porch tale... a delight wherever you are, really. Soon, we hope to have our own copy in the Christmas book box, but in the meantime the library has graced us with their copy every year for the past three...

Apple Tree Christmas
written and illustrated by Trinka Hakes Noble

What delights us the most about this book is that the family lives in a barn! Yes, a two-level barn; nestled in a slight valley, the animals live in the below-ground portion and the family above; Mama in the kitchen, Papa in his workshop, and Katrina and Josie in the loft at the very top. Someday, Papa would build them a real house. But for now living in the barn with the soft animal sounds and sweet smell of hay was just right.

Katrina has a favorite drawing spot- nestled in the crook of an ancient apple tree that is wrapped in creeping grape vines. Josie loves to swing on one of the vines that Papa has pulled low enough for her to reach. The family, when Papa senses winter approaching quickly, spends a few days picking apples for cider, applesauce, and decorating their Christmas tree.

And then the storm comes...

Thankfully, the family is safely nestled in the warm barn, the heat from the animals rising up through the floorboards. But when an ice storm hits, the beloved apple tree cannot bear the weight of the ice, and splits right down the middle. Katrina's heart is so heavy for her special drawing place, and it is hard for her to bear the sight of Papa bringing in wood for the fire from the old apple tree.

But on Christmas morning Papa and Mama have two surprises for the girls that make everything better- you will love the simplicity of the gifts, as well as the creativity that comes from using what you have... makes me think of this old New England saying:

Use it up,
Wear it out.
Make it do-
Or do without!

I love the illustrations- I could sit and look for hours at the bright colors, the soft curls in Mama's hair, the gingham patterns on the girls' dresses, the rough beams inside the barn-house. My children love the idea of a house in a barn- and Micah, when the family ate apple fritters and maple syrup for dinner the night before the storm, declared, "People in the old days ate lots of desserts for meals, didn't they Mama?" (We also love Farmer Boy- many lunches for Almanzo consisted of only a piece of apple pie! Once, when there were but a few pieces of apple pie left after a potluck, the children and I wrapped cold pieces in cloth napkins and took them on a nature walk- best one we've ever taken!)

Ms. Noble pulled experiences from her own childhood for this book, and you can sense the wonderful memories and love she has for her family through the story and illustrations. The best kind of book, in my opinion! We also thoroughly enjoyed this story, a previous CBM review, also written by Trinka Hakes Noble, but illustrated by Doris Ettlinger.

Happy Reading!

(CBM will be on hiatus until the first week of January. Feel free to peruse the archives for some book ideas for your library trips!)

3 fellow travelers shared:

Stacy said...

Ah, yes... this is a favorite of ours, too, Elise! :) It's on my List to add to our own Christmas book collection.

Kristin said...

We love this one, too! What a wonderful surprise ending. :-)

Quinne said...

Hi Elise :) This sounds like one that we will love! Thanks so much for your notes. Love & hugs, Q

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