cover image The Great Spruce

The Great Spruce

John Duvall, illus. by Rebecca Gibbon. Putnam, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-16084-4

Alec loves to climb the spruce tree his grandfather planted years ago, but this year men arrive hoping to use it as a centerpiece in a city holiday display. Distraught, Alec suggests a compromise: “You can borrow the tree instead!” Alec, his grandfather, and members of their community dig up the tree in order to preserve its roots before it travels to the city via tugboat and horse-drawn sleigh. Gibbon’s (The Bee Who Spoke) images of a countryside speckled with cottages and snowy cityscapes recall the work of Ludwig Bemelmans, amplifying the sweetly nostalgic mood of newcomer Duvall’s story. The city isn’t identified, but visual cues suggest it to be New York City, and a closing note discusses how live trees were once used in Rockefeller Center and then replanted on Long Island—a practice that has fallen out of favor, Duvall laments. Ages 5–8. Illustrator’s agency: Riley Illustration. (Oct.)