Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Blue Spruce

The Blue Spruce

Mario Cuomo
Illustrator:  Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen 
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Sleeping Bear Press, 1963   ISBN: 978-1886947764

Mario is sad when his Papa tells him that his family is going to move away from the apartment behind the family store. He likes the hustle and bustle of life in the city and he will miss being able to play stickball in the street with the other kids. Papa explains that the family will have a house all to themselves now, one with a yard and a ""great big beautiful tree with branches that spread out into the sky."" Having such a house has been Papa's dream for a long time and now, at last, his dream is coming true.

When the family go to the house is it everything that Papa has dreamed of. Mama looks around the yard to find the best spot to plant her garden and Papa introduces Mario to the Blue Spruce. He tells Mario that the tree ""is ours"" and they talk about what they think the tree looks like. Papa thinks it is like ""a bunch of hands reaching for the sky"" and Mario thinks it looks like a church steeple.

It isn't long before Mario and the Blue Spruce become friends. Whatever the season and whatever the time of day Mario and his tree have their special moments. The connection between them is strong and Mario even begins to believe that the tree can hear all the secrets he whispers to it at night.

One afternoon a storm blows in. Bright lightning flashes, the rain pours down, and the wind lashes at the Blue Spruce. As Mario watches the tree fights to stay upright, its roots groaning against the wind which is trying to push it over. It looses the battle and tips over. With an aching heart Mario joins his father as he runs outside. Is this the end of Papa's dream? Is the Blue Spruce really going to die in this terrible way?

In this remarkable true story from his own life, former Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, shows his young audience that one should never give up trying to fulfill ones dreams. The events which took place on that fateful stormy day made a deep impression on Mario, and the lesson that he learned from his battle to save his beloved tree served him well later in life when he was facing a hard race for the governorship of New York. Mario learned that you have to fight for what you want and what you love, just as he and his father did when they worked together to save their tree.

This is a powerful and meaningful story. It is also a story which tree lovers of all ages will appreciate. Many readers will understand why the young Mario grew to love his Blue Spruce. Perhaps they too have a tree friend who means a great deal to them, and who represents a dream which they cherish.