Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Christmas Tree Ship

The Christmas Tree Ship

Carol Crane
Illustrator:  Chris Ellison 
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 9
Sleeping Bear Press, 2011   ISBN: 978-1585362851

Tim and his brother live with their Grandpa Axel and Grandma Hannah in a Lake Michigan lighthouse. Grandpa knows the lakes moods very well, and one stormy night just before Christmas he gathers the children together in front of the fire to tell them a story.

One of Grandpa’s favourite stories is the true story of Captain Santa and his ship, Rouse Simmons. Every year Captain Santa transported Christmas trees from northern Michigan to Chicago, so that the city children could have beautiful trees to decorate for Christmas. One year the Captain decided that this would be his last trip. He was getting old and it was time to take it easy. On that last journey, the Rouse Simmons sailed into a terrible storm, and though the captain did everything he could, he and his crew were lost when the Rouse Simmons sank.

After the storm was over, Grandpa found driftwood and Christmas trees from the Rouse Simmons on the beach near where he lived. At this point in his story, Grandpa shows the children a copper tag that he found on the beach all those years ago. It was one of the straps that they used to tie the Christmas trees together, and it came from the Rouse Simmons.

Now that Captain Santa was gone, everyone thought that Chicago would have to do without the wonderful Christmas trees from Michigan, but the very next year something amazing happened.

This tale is based on the true story of Captain Schuenemann and his ship, the Rouse Simmons. The author’s grandfather, Axel Anderson, told her the story of the ship that brought Christmas trees to Chicago, and how he really did find trees bound with copper tags on the beach.

Beautifully told and illustrated, this is a very special book that will take young readers on a journey into the past.