Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree

Robert Barry’s Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree
was originally published in 1963, then updated in 2000.

It is a delightful tale of Mr. Willowby’s fine tree, “Full and fresh and glistening green – The biggest tree he had ever seen.”

It’s delivered on a pink truck, but when it arrives in the house, the tree is too tall.  What follows is the tale of the top of a Christmas tree and how it gets snipped and moved from house to house, leaving joy in each place.

We love the rhyming text which is easy to read and even to memorize.  My children also love the idea of a tree that gets smaller with each cut, and yet is the perfect size for yet another creature every time.

And the final location of the tip of the tree?  Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

With happy colors, great illustrations and a fun vintage feel, this is one of our absolute favorites.  I’m usually asked to re-read it several times when we get it out.  This year we chose Mr. Willowby’s Christmas tree as our evening story on the day we put up our own Christmas tree.  This book was a special gift from a dear friend years ago and oh, how we’ve loved it over the years.  I highly recommend it!

Season’s Readings!

Years ago a friend gave me a copy of this painting of Santa reading a child to sleep and I’ve loved it ever since.  I wish I could read the author’s name better so I can credit him/her and find additional copies of it.  (If you know, please tell me!)

I love Christmas stories, particularly stories that have been illustrated in a children’s book format.  The prose and illustrations bring such beauty and depth to the Christmas season.   I’ve been collecting Christmas books for almost twenty years now and have a great collection.  Some are tattered and curled at the corners.  Some I’ve protected more carefully.  Some were gifts from friends I love, some reminders of my childhood.  Several years ago I compiled a list of them all, and this year a friend asked if she could use the list for a presentation she was preparing.  I went through my books to update the list and sent her off with a load of Christmas books to share.

The books are back and I’ve been thinking it would be fun to share them here.  Many of them are classics, stories most of us probably own, but many are less known, some out of print, some available in countless editions.  I have a mix of cheerful stories and stories laced with meaning, all of which help to capture and enhance the spirit of Christmas.  I’ve decided that few things bring the real meaning of Christmas to light better than Christmas stories.  I love reading them to my children because they bring a bit of magic to our home.  They also preach sermons about giving and selflessness that fall on deaf ears if I just start talking.  These books, with their luminous pictures and beautiful words, open the hearts of my children to plant seeds of goodness in their souls.

So, welcome to a series of spotlights (in no particular order) on Christmas books our family treasures.  I’m calling it Season’s Readings and I hope you’ll find a new treasure or two, and share your own with me.

Merry Christmas!


The Penderwicks

I confess I may be hopelessly old fashioned in the reading department.  I love wholesome books that celebrate and depict good, traditional childhood.  I’m not a fan of books that thrust all the world’s problems on children, or books that have thinly veiled social agendas.  While I enjoy fantasy, I like our reading to include more real life fiction than anything else.  I like reading about children who have adventures, who learn to solve problems, who learn to get along with one another.

Well, Jeanne Birdsall’s Penderwicks series is fabulous.  We loved the first when it came out a couple of years ago (and won the National Book Award), followed by a second and then a third earlier this year.

I’m not joking when I say these books have been all over the house this summer.  All four of my oldest children are reading them, sometimes sneaking them away from a sibling who wasn’t finished because they couldn’t bear to wait.  I’ve been reading them aloud to the younger children as well, when I can get my hands on one.  I even have a duplicate copy of the first and we still can’t get them to stay in one place!

The Penderwicks are a family of four girls and their father.  Their mother died of cancer shortly after the baby was born.  They have adventures, they have arguments, they serve and love each other, and they all have distinct personalities which make us laugh.  They are a wonderful family to read about.

If you’re looking for the perfect series to give to your children, please consider these books.  We love them, plain and simple.  And we’re hoping she writes more.

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