The Carpenter’s Gift

Author:  David Rubel
Illustrator: Jim LaMarche

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Henry and his out-of-work father have just finished a long day selling Christmas trees in Midtown Manhattan. Before heading home, they give away the last few trees to construction workers, who decorate the tallest one—the first Rockefeller Center tree! On Christmas morning, Henry awakes to a surprise. The workers have gathered outside his family’s drafty shack with enough lumber to build a simple, decent home. The gift of a hammer from one of the carpenters changes Henry’s life.

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With renewed hope for the future, young Henry plants a pine cone he has saved from the Rockefeller Center tree. Over his lifetime, the pine cone grows into a towering spruce. But the circle of giving is not yet complete….

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Written by children’s historian David Rubel in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, and illustrated by Jim LaMarche,The Carpenter’s Gift celebrates the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, an American tradition. Each year, the tree is milled into lumber that Habitat for Humanity uses to build a simple, decent home with a family in need.

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LaMarche conveys emotional resonance with gauzy, soft-hued paintings of the inspirational proceedings. An afterword highlights Rockefeller Center owner Tishman Speyer’s recent partnership with Habitat for Humanity, which earmarks the tree to be milled for lumber post-Christmas for a family in need.

My dad was a carpenter who built the house we grew up in, and this book brings to mind his gentle nature and generosity.
 —Garrison Keillor

The heartwarming tale told in The Carpenter’s Gift brings together—through beautiful illustrations and a moving, multigenerational story—two great traditions: the Rockefeller Center tree and the neighbor-helping-neighbor program of Habitat for Humanity.
—Jimmy Carter

Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect

Long, long ago, in a land far away, lived a perfect little tree named Small Pine. Small Pine hoped to maintain its perfect form and be selected by the Queen as her Christmas tree. But as the warm-hearted little tree gave shelter to birds, rabbits, and deer in the forest, its branches became damaged. Fortunately, the Queen had a different idea of perfection..

From Mary

Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Richard H. Schneider is the perfect story for anyone who has ever striven towards a goal, only to find it unattainable due to unforeseen circumstances.  As I shared this story with my first graders, we discussed Small Pine’s selflessness in providing shelter for the forest animals – even at the expense of the damage it caused its branches. Knowing the perfection of its shape was diminishing did not cause it to quit giving aid when the animals were in danger.  To make the story more meaningful, we actually bent and broke branches on our classroom Christmas tree while reading the book.  As gaping holes began to appear the class could understand as we read, “Small Pine wilted in sorrow. It could hear what the larger, still-perfect trees were saying about how bad it looked. A tear of pine gum oozed from the tip of a branch.  Small Pine knew it could never hope for the honor of being the Queen’s Christmas tree.”  But oh!! The joy and excitement by the class when Small Pine was chosen by the Queen! For she had indeed looked past the drooping, nibbled branches and understood the sacrifice that had been made.

As we drew and colored our own personal Christmas trees, perfection didn’t seem to matter. Each child created their own “perfect” tree and we celebrated the beauty of them all! After all, Small Pine had taught us that “living for the sake of others makes us most beautiful in the eyes of God.”

Mary Kline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stone Soup

Author/Illustrator: Marcia Brown

12,487 Ideas on PINTEREST to use with Stone Soup (slight exaggeration…)

This delightful story provided me with a fun teaching opportunity with my first graders every year.  While learning the difference between fiction and non-fiction books, I read them Stone Soup.  They agreed that surely no one would put stones in their soup, so of course it was fiction.  I proceeded to pull a (much-scrubbed) large stone from my reading apron pocket, put it in a crockpot, and add the ingredients from the following recipe.  I’m sure you could have heard a pin drop, as those little children’s eyes looked at me with both amazement and even a bit of shock.  Some child always ventured to ask, “Are we really going to eat that?”  I just smiled. . .   We went on with our day and several hours later the aroma began to fill the classroom and several more children asked about tasting our “soup.”  I just smiled…  Finally, I opened the lid and ladled out a helping for each child.  Yes, the rock stayed in the crockpot!  Our stone soup was a huge success, and it was unanimously decided that perhaps a story might be fiction and non-fiction at the same time!

Potato-Beef Soup (adding a stone is optional!)

2 lb ground beef  (cooked and drained)           4 cups water

4 cups  (cubed and peeled)                                 2 tsp salt

1 onion , chopped                                                  2 tsp pepper

3 cans (8 oz) tomato sauce                                 1 tsp hot pepper sauce

Put ingredients in crockpot on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours.  (Remove stone before enjoying!)

 

From the Publisher

This old French tale about soldiers who trick miserly villages into making them a feast won a Caldecott Medal when Brown retold and illustrated it in 1947.

Three soldiers came marching down the road towards a French village. The peasants seeing them coming, suddenly became very busy, for soldiers are often hungry. So all the food was hidden under mattresses or in barns. There followed a battle of wits, with the soldiers equal to the occasion. Stone soup? Why, of course, they could make a wonderful soup of stones…but, of course, one must add a carrot or two…some meat…so it went. Marcia Brown has made of this old tale a very cheerful book, a carnival of activity, of dancing and laughter. So much goes on in the pictures that children who have once heard the story will turn to them again and again, retelling the story for themselves.

 

Because of Thursday

Thursdays have always been lucky for Annie Fetlock. She was born on a Thursday. She won her first cooking contest at the age of eight on a Thursday. She met the love of her life, Mario, on a Thursday. They were married on a bright Thursday afternoon and their two children were both born on a Thursday. Annie is known far and wide for her Poke Pasta Salad and has the most popular restaurant for miles around.

When Mario suddenly passes away, Annie’s joy and love of cooking disappears. Before too long, a little kitty appears and Annie takes the kitty in, and, of course, calls it Thursday. Annie is back making Poke Salad in no time. Thursday the cat is known for amazing twirls and tricks and one day his twirls land him in Annie’s draining rigatoni, causing the pot of hot oil, garlic, and peppers to spill into the pasta! Then the entire container of Parmesan cheese overturned into the mix. The customers were horrified until they noticed that what looked like a big mess had the most amazing aroma and turned out to be the most delicious pasta dish ever created! Ugly Pasta—the dish that would make Annie famous for miles around—was born. And of course it was a Thursday!