Monday, February 20, 2012
LUCKY: THE TALE OF A TREE by Richard Hawkins
Lucky, by Richard Hawkins, examines Christmas rituals from the point of view of the Christmas tree. A fir tree is plucked from his dull life in the forest clearing to the hustle and bustle of a Christmastime family home, where people call him “perfect,” decorate his branches, show him off to friends, and lay presents at his feet. He listens to the Christmas Eve stories and shares the joy of the children. But he begins to worry when they talk about “taking down the tree!”
Hawkins’ exquisitely told tale addresses the issue of life and death by subjugating the problem into the perspective of the fir tree who, after New Years, slowly withers away in the backyard, gently passing away in peace, having had his “days of glory.” Hawkins captures the wonder of a child, the ennui of a teenage girl, the gentle patience of their parents, and the rituals of an American Christmas, all from the perspective of this tree, ironically named “Lucky” by “Scraggly,” the old, wise fir growing in the backyard.
Hoeffner’s pencil illustrations are beautifully done, filled with emotion and detail. I was surprised to find the black and white, though, at my first turn through the book. I like the use of pencil for its detail, and artificially bright illustrations would overwhelm the narrative. But the grayscale printing lends a somber tone to the text that may or may not be the most engaging to young kids. I kept thinking that the book in my hand was a grayscale printing of colored pencil art, and had to remind myself that it was supposed to be like that!
Overall, though, I loved the story. Hawkins and Hoeffner have created a wonderfully unique Christmas story—an impressive achievement in a market largely over-saturated with Christmas stuff. I would definitely recommend this book for any family with a Christmas tree!&