Christmas Farm

Author: Mary Lyn Ray

Illustrator: Barry Root

Wilma had grown petunias and sunflowers for years. Now she was ready for something else. But what? When snow fell on the last of her sunflower stalks, Wilma still hadn’t decided how to make her garden different next year.  And now there was Christmas to think of. . .

Wilma bundled up, took her hand saw and climbed the hill behind her home. She selected the perfect tree for her parlor, and as she began to wrap it with lights, she knew. She knew what to plant instead of petunias. But she would need the help of Parker. Parker lived next door. He was five. Their adventure was about to begin. They would plant Christmas trees- dozens and dozens (over sixty dozen!)  Each year as the trees grew and matured, Parker was also growing along with them.

“During the winter some trees were lost to mice and deer, storm and ice. When spring came, Parker ran between the rows, counting. Six hundred and fifty-two was a big number to count, but Parker could do it now that he was eight.”

When Wilma and Parker had sold their last tree, they had the deep satisfaction of knowing that in places they never knew, there were trees they had grown wearing lights and balls and tinsel in their branches – green balsam branches that smelled the sweet smell of Christmas.

 

“This lovely tale celebrates intergenerational friendship and determination, growth and nature, and the joy of the holiday season.”  School Library Journal

Mary Kline

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

Christmas Tree Book List & Activities

Welcome to December and The Fireflies Blog!   We hope you enjoy each and every day of this special month as we deck the halls and curl up with great children’s books.   Our theme this month centers on the Christmas tree.   If you are following us on Heritage2Legacy, we will be asking you to think about a memory focused on your family tree.   Are you one of our FirefliesROCK painters???  You guessed it!  We’ll be painting a Christmas tree.   Who will you be giving your rock too?  Or maybe you will keep it as a Christmas ’17 treasure…perhaps starting a new tradition!

We can’t wait to introduce you to a couple new Christmas tree books this month – we will share discovered-delights along with old-favorites!

Below you will find the Fireflies” book list to download.

Merry Christmas with deep appreciation!
Deni, Gil, Mary, Rachel & Debbie

 

BOOKLIST (pdf)

Download – take to the library – ENJOY!

PINTEREST Christmas Tree activities

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.