Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Carpenter's Gift

The Carpenter's Gift

David Rubel
Illustrator:  Jim LaMarche 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2011   ISBN: 978-0375869228

Many years ago, Henry was a boy waking up on winter mornings in an old shack that was cold. There was no point complaining because the country was in the grip of the Great Depression, and Henry’s parents, like so many other parents, were doing the best they could to care for their family.

On Christmas Eve in 1931, Henry and his father went into the woods to cut some spruce trees. The plan was to take the trees into New York City to sell, which is just what they did. That whole afternoon Henry and his father sold the trees that they had cut, and at the end of the day they gave the remaining trees to some construction workers who had helped them unload the trees from Henry’s father’s truck.

The construction workers decorated the largest of the trees that they were given with whatever they could find, including tin cans. Though the tree was not covered with pretty baubles and ornaments, to Henry it looked beautiful, and he decided to make a wish. He wished that one day he and his family would have a “nice, warm house” to live in.

This heartwarming and delightful picture book is based on the true story of the first Rockefeller Center Christmas tree that was bought and decorated by a crew of construction workers in 1931. The workers were digging the foundation for the Rockefeller Center, and the tree was their thank you for the precious jobs they had been given at a time when there were so few jobs available.

In this picture book the wonderful text and Jim LaMarche’s beautiful illustrations come together to give readers a tale that will remind them that wishes can come true, and that the real spirit of Christmas is found in the joy of giving.

At the back of the book the author provides readers with further information about the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.