Christmas Farm
by Ray, Mary Lyn; Root, Barry (ILT)

After planting balsam seedlings in her garden and tending to them with great care year after year, Wilma must decide which ones are ready to be chosen as Christmas trees for families for the holiday season ahead, in a richly illustrated companion to Pumpkins: A Story for a Field.

MARY LYN RAY has written many acclaimed picture books, including Mud, which received the Minnesota Book Award and was an IRA-CBC Children&;s Choice. She lives in South Danbury, New Hampshire.
BARRY ROOT is the illustrator of more than thirty books for children, including Tiki and Ronde Barber&;s Teammates, Game Day, and By My Brother&;s Side. He lives in Drumore, Pennsylvania.

As in their previous collaboration, Pumpkins (1992), Ray and Root once again focus on a holiday crop. Wilma, a gray-haired gardener, decides to plant a huge field of Christmas trees. She orders hundreds of small starts of balsam and enlists the help of Parker, the little boy next door: He was five, like the seedlings. Parker helps measure straight rows and dig holes for 744 trees, and he continues to help through the following years. Root's appealing watercolor-and-gouache illustrations invite inspection, from scenes of the field in different seasons to those that show Wilma and Parker's harmonious teamwork over time. Ray gracefully conveys an acceptance of natural cycles: some trees are lost to deer that dug in the snow to chew the sweet green tips. The year that Parker is 10, the team sells their first 566 trees and then, looking to the future, order dozens of new seedlings. All the numbers add up to an added math theme in a story that lovingly depicts the hard work, cooperation, and patience necessary to grow crops. An author's note offers more about Christmas-tree history and farming. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Wilma is a successful gardener who lives happily by herself on a farm in New England. One year she decides she would like to grow Christmas trees, and with the help of her neighbor boy, Parker, they plant and grow hundreds of trees together. They work side by side for five years, until the trees are large enough to be sold, and then they order more trees to plant the following spring. Ray tells her story in simple, lyrical language that focuses on the trees and their growth. She doesn't have to spell out that Wilma and Parker are great friends and that shared goals and work forge strong bonds. All those aspects of the nuanced plot are apparent in the spare story and in the beautifully understated watercolor illustrations. Root's illustrations often use a warm gold palette for interior scenes in Wilma's sunny kitchen and outdoors on her farm in summer; winter vistas show deep blue skies with speckles of falling snow, deep green trees and glowing lights from distant farmhouses. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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