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The Little Christmas Tree: A Winter Tale with a Touch of Magic    by Dugald Steer & Susanna Ronchi order for
Little Christmas Tree
by Dugald Steer
Order:  USA  Can
Blue Heron, 2004 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Little Christmas Tree is one of a 'Giant Embossed' series. It's much bigger than the average picture book, and the embossed stars and ornaments make you want to continually move your hands across the pages - definitely a touchie-feelie book! Susanna Ronchi's illustrations are simply delightful - her cover scene glitters like an old-fashioned Christmas card, shining like snow does on a sunny day.

The story begins near the North Pole at Santa's workshop, where the toys come alive after he makes them. The little fir tree 'loves to see the new toys coming out to play' each year, and to hear them speculate about the children they will soon be with. It's a happy time for her. She always wants it to last forever, dreads their departure, and wishes she could be 'a real Christmas tree, all dressed up for the toys on Christmas Day.' Can you guess what will happen? Of course you can. The toys do some planning, and some traveling (my favorite is the one who goes by camel) to make a very special occasion for the little tree who gave them so much happiness.

I love the concept of this 'Giant Embossed' series - books that kids can gather round and read together, and will continually reach out to touch and explore. The illustrations are bright and full of festive detail to exclaim over. The Little Christmas Tree addresses holiday anticipation and the disappointment when it's over, something with which all kids will empathize. It does indeed bring a 'touch of magic' to the Christmas season.

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