Each year I buy seasonal books for the boys. We have around 50 now at least, and as they still enjoy picture books at bedtime, it’s so much fun for me to hunt about and discover new favourites each year that we’ve never heard of before. So many books centre on Father Christmas himself and so it’s always refreshing to find a book with a different main topic like Pick a Pine Tree. No prizes for guessing what it’s about…
PICK A PINE TREE
Written by Patricia Toht, Pick a Pine tree was bought by me this year because of my love of our family tradition in doing just that. Each year we visit the tree farm and as a family pick a pine tree [even though I’m allergic to them and they cause me chaos] to bring into the living room and decorate with all of the lights, lametta and baubles we have in our Christmas armoury. And I mean ALL the baubles. There’s no holding back, no class and certainly no colour scheme. There is a lot of Disney though. Our tree is an all out, every bauble for himself celebration of everything we’ve ever loved about Christmas time.
JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER
So starting with the cover, this is one book it’s safe to judge. It looks like a gift, with its little ribbon running down the side, all wrapped in festive paper and ready to give with the glowing, Christmas tree fairy light-illustrations of Jarvis. I should warn you that there’s not a bit of this book I don’t love – from the reindeer on the front of the cover to the huge, colossal two page Christmas tree within the pages. It’s gorgeous and I wish we’d had it earlier. Get ready for some gushing and points to note about this book.
THE STORYLINE OF PICK A PINE TREE
This book follows the day that a family of four leaves their home to go out and buy a pine tree [which is cut already, so no controversy there]. They take it home with them, and then invite friends over to sort the house out and decorate it, transforming their simple pine tree into a glorious and full on, fairy-light-twinkling, super-festive extravaganza of a Christmas tree.
POINTS TO NOTE ABOUT PICK A PINE TREE
- Whilst we all know the suggested true and celebrated meaning of Christmas, we noticed [as parents, the boys were oblivious] that this book remains secular, with the angel being described as a tree topper [we have Chip and Dale hugging a candy cane as our tree topper this year].
- The family and friends mix of ethnicities is diverse throughout the book, which is refreshing to see in a children’s book – and far a more representative reflection of our own boys’ social circles than most books we have already show.
- Pick a Pine Tree is recommended for children 2-6 [although Jens and Lyoto both loved it still at 7 and 9], and the rhyming text is kept short, bopping along merrily to the tune of four brief lines on each page.
- Each page turns to show a double spread which means more time for absorbing and noticing the detail in the illustrations whilst the two pages are read – and it’s easier for children to see without complaining that the page is closer to this brother or that brother when the illustrations cover two pages.
- Our boys’ favourite page is the double spread of the Christmas tree all decorated and in its yuletide glory – and because the book needs to be angled 90 degrees to see it, it’s even more exciting.
- The only thing the boys found a bit odd was the fact that this family invited people over to help decorate their tree. Lyoto wanted to know why they weren’t doing it themselves like us and decided that they were just late inputting it up and needed people to help them get ready for Christmas fast. I too had to concede that I’d find it odd that other people came and put the baubles on my tree – and stressful to boot. Can you imagine? Perhaps it’s an American tradition to get together and pop the tree up together as the book is written for the American market primarily [lametta being tinsel and tinsel named as a garland are some of the easy giveaways] – but it added beautifully to the fun in the book in any case and now I’m sure they’re thinking that they need a tree decorating party too next year…
- The more miserable of reviewers [I like to see what other people say before I buy a book] have commented that they don’t think it’s realistic, as they drag their artificial tree out of the loft each year but you know what? We make a point of bundling up and heading out to the Christmas Tree Farm [which is our local fishery] each year to support their business and to spend the morning enjoying a holiday tractor ride, running about and hiding in the pine trees in the fresh air, being chased by random chickens [from the fishery] and meeting other people who’re out doing the same as us on the first weekend of December. It’s a much loved tradition to kick off advent for us and we recommend it. Donate your old, plastic tree and get outdoors. It will make you far less grumpy too 😉