Friday, December 1, 2023

Today's read... How to Decorate a Christmas Tree by Vikki VanSickle

 It's the 1st of December, and I'm going to launch the month with a book, which mirrors our own activities today—decorating the Christmas tree. We did put it up last weekend, and during the week, I managed to get the lights on, but the true decorating starts today. We always have a chaotic tree...something my kids are insisting I change this year....thanks to our 'special' ornaments. This book is all about these keepsakes and memories, and should show a more atmospheric angle to Christmas tree decorating. 

by Viki VanSickle
Illustrated by Miki Sato
Tundra Books
Picture Book  /   Holiday
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

A little girl shares the steps for the perfect tree trimming — a holiday picture book for fans of Pick a Pine Tree and The Little Christmas Tree .

In this charming Christmas tale, readers will follow along with the main character as she shares all the things that go into decorating a

Hot chocolate
Taffy the cat
And, most importantly, family!

With stunning three-dimensional art by Miki Sato and a delightful story by wordsmith Vikki VanSickle, including a twist ending, this book will quickly become a Christmas tree decorating tradition of its own.

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The fun and warmth of decorating a Christmas tree comes across with lovely illustrations and a few surprises.

It's time to decorate the Christmas tree! From hauling the tree into the house to unpacking decorations, drinking hot chocolate, discovering memorable ornaments, and a few antics in between, the ritual of putting up decorations becomes a celebration all of its own.

This read goes beyond the basic tree decorating. Instead, it follows a young girl as she carefully unpacks the ornaments and discovers those, which have special meaning and history. Each one carries a little story...simple ones such as a small cat sent from an aunt in Japan or the first ornament made after the little girl's birth with her name on it. Each memory is told in a couple quick lines, making this great for even those who have shorter attention spans. These memories are, for the most part, familiar enough for listeners to connect with and realize what makes them special.

There's a little bit of humor and quirks sprinkled in to keep the read from becoming too serious. The cat adds a few antics as well as the uncle and father with their jokes. Plus, there's a surprise at the end, too. 

The highlight of this read rests in the illustrations. By using images with layered, textured items, the scenes carry a hint of realism, which makes the details grab. Especially the Christmas tree benefits from this style and makes these pictures worth revisiting time and time again.

And here they are...

VIKKI VANSICKLE is the author of a number of acclaimed novels for children including Words That Start With BSummer Days, Starry Nights; the award-winning The Winnowing; and picture books If I Had a Gryphon; Teddy Bear of the Year; and Anonymouse. Vikki started her career as an independent bookseller and worked in children’s publishing for twelve years. In addition to writing, she curates and presents regular book segments for CTV Your Morning. Currently, she lives and writes in Toronto.

MIKI SATO is a Japanese-Canadian illustrator who uses a variety of different papers and fabrics to create layered, three-dimensional illustrations. Born and raised in Ottawa, she currently resides in Toronto, where she attended the Ontario College of Art and Design to study illustration. More examples of her work can be found at:

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