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Summary: At the Christmas Tree Farm, all of the trees were excited about Christmas. One of them would be picked for the city center; others would go to the Christmas tree lots and spend Christmas with a family. Stanley dreamed of a Christmas with children and presents, and he never let the other trees get to him. He worked hard to grow straight, with full branches. He thought his dream had come true, but he ended up spending Christmas Eve with the dumpsters in the snow. Christmas is about miracles. Would Stanley be part of a miracle? This is a holiday story about believing in yourself. It comes with the story told on a CD.
Type of Reading: playtime reading, independent reading, read aloud book, interactive reading
Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 8; read yourself: 8 to 10
Interest Level: 5 to 8
Reading Level: 3.5
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: This story has all of the elements you want for a great Christmas story: faith, dreams and wishes, miracles, families, and a happy ending. I'm not sure why we need "characters" that make fun of Stanley, but I love that even when his dreams are jeopardized, Stanley and his trashcan compatriots can still offer positive thoughts. This is an incredibly text-heavy picture book, making it a long choice for a bedtime story. The book would be well-served by more illustrations. Most of the action takes place in text, not image, making it harder to keep the attention of younger audiences. The music on the CD are Perry-Como-esque and some of the songs will remind you of the tunes in many of the seasonal cartoons on television.
Pros: Families will enjoy sharing this story about a Christmas tree who believes in himself and in sharing his talents with others.
Cons: There is no reference to the religious foundation of Christmas until the end of the story. Those who want a completely secular story may find the prayer and miracle references 'gratuitous' to their goals. The audio CD is a wonderful complement, but because pre-readers may be listening, the narration needs to have a signal to turn the page.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This would make a fine addition to your holiday reading traditions. The story is imaginative and can inspire your kids to think about the true meaning of Christmas.
Educational Themes: Read this story before you go Christmas tree shopping. Then, create a story about your tree. What is his/her name? What are her dreams? You can draw out seasonal themes (faith, tradition, celebration), as well as broader themes of feelings, self-esteem, compassion, and families.
Notes: The author donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.