As a bookseller, I love giving recommendations, but it’s always great to get suggestions from customers, too. The other day a woman came in and recommended a book to me that one of our staff members had recommended to her last year. She loved the book so much that she wanted to make sure we kept recommending it. A bounce-back recommendation!
The book in question is The Carpenter’s Gift: A Christmas Tale about the Rockefeller Center Tree by David Rubel and illustrated by Jim LaMarche (Random House, $17.99). Beautifully illustrated, this book is appropriate 5-7 year olds, who are better able to sit through a longer story. The narrative is framed as a childhood recollection from the Christmas of 1931. In the midst of the Depression, Henry and his father head to New York to sell Christmas trees. There they meet some carpenters who help unload the trees. At the end of the day, Henry and his father leave the trees they don’t sell with the carpenters, which sparks a ripple of kind deeds that embody the ‘Christmas spirit’. The ripple continues when present-day Henry is asked to donate one of his trees to the Rockefeller Center for their Christmas celebration with the understanding that the tree will then be donated to help build another family’s home.
At the end there are two pages of information about the Rockefeller Tree and Habitat for Humanity. Starting in 2007, wood from the Rockefeller Tree has been donated to Habitat for Humanity, which uses the lumber to build affordable housing. There is a parallel here. I can see now that our customer wanted to perpetuate the ripple started in this book; an unspoken injunction to continue spreading this story of kindness.