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The Great Spruce

by John Duvall

Other authors: Rebecca Gibbon (Illustrator)

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The spruce tree his grandfather planted means a lot to Alec, so when men from the city want to use as a Christmas tree, Alec offers a compromise.

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"Alec loved to climb trees," the narrator of this lovely new Christmas book informs us, going on to describe his particular fondness for a huge spruce that his grandfather had transplanted years before. When people from the city arrive and ask his parents for permission to cut down the spruce, in order to use it as the Christmas tree in their big celebration, Alec is aghast, and protests. Surely they can just borrow it?!? And so, rather than cutting (and thereby killing) the tree, it is dug up, transported to the city for the holidays, and then returned to its country home.

Author John Duvall, who has worked for a tree-care company in the past, and who in 2009 penned a New York Times editorial deploring the use of cut trees rather than live ones in the Rockefeller Plaza Christmas-tree-lighting (see: "Rootless for the Holidays"), here imagines a better way, using Alec's love of trees to bring home his point regarding the shame of destroying our arboreal friends' lives for a little temporary finery. I appreciated his point - and the information contained in his afterword, that for a time live trees were used here in New York - but have to wonder about the larger implications of his argument. Does he believe that everyone should refrain from cutting living trees in order to bring them into their homes at Christmas, or does he simply deplore the destruction of larger specimens? If the former, that would involve a significant shift from current cultural practices. Whatever the case may be, I am sympathetic to his general idea, as I too have sometimes felt badly at the idea of killing something for a little temporary display.

The Great Spruce is a Christmas story that will give children and their parents something to think about and discuss. The accompanying artwork by Rebecca Gibbon, who also illustrated the wonderful Celebritrees: Historic and Famous Trees of the World, is engaging and colorful, adding to the sense of seasonal beauty. Recommended to anyone looking for Christmas stories that encourage a little ecological consciousness, or who have ever wondered about the idea of cutting down Christmas trees. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Dec 9, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Duvallprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gibbon, RebeccaIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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The spruce tree his grandfather planted means a lot to Alec, so when men from the city want to use as a Christmas tree, Alec offers a compromise.

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