cover image The Halloween Tree

The Halloween Tree

Susan Montanari, illus. by Teresa Martinez. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $10.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4926-7335-4

On a Christmas tree farm, a curmudgeonly needleless sapling grumbles that it dreads being uprooted: “I don’t like lights, I don’t like decorations, and I don’t like people.” After a housing development replaces the farm, the gnarled tree ends up on a family’s lawn, where neighborhood kids turn its knotty branches into a pirate ship, a hideout, a spaceship, and a dragon. Martinez fills this 8×8 with vivid digital illustrations suggestive of animated cartoons, cleverly tweaking the tree’s facial expressions to morph from grumpy (amid Christmas tree buyers) to tolerant (serving as the kids’ playground) to forlorn (when winter keeps the children indoors) to chagrin (when the parents threaten to cut it down) to satisfied—if somewhat skeptical—when the youngsters decorate it for Halloween and exclaim, “Trick or tree!” A slight yet diverting holiday offering. Ages 3–7. [em](Aug.) [/em]