Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Wahl, Jan. Illus. Leonard Weisgard. The Golden Christmas Tree. New York: Golden Book, 1988. ISBN: 978-0-375-82647-1, $ 8.99. Picture Book

This is a gentle book that quietly celebrates the possibility of peaceful collaboration and joyful celebration.

"All was hushed in the forest for the animals' Christmas. The elephant brought a great fir tree from far away"—and thus, Jan Wahl starts her story of belonging and community where each animal has a special role. Elephant brings the fir tree and cardinal announces its coming. Kindness and compassion appear as "wolf [helps] the red deer" and they are joined by "the badger and a family of foxes—guided by bats who whistle soft carols." In allusions to the Christian Bible, squirrels tell of the first Christmas and, once more, the lion lies down with the lamb.

Back to the forest, however. All the animals contribute to the making of a Christmas tree. Leonard Weisgard ably illustrates the light-hearted playfulness of baby foxes, the befuddled confusion of llamas, and the pride of a tiger as he strings purple bead after purple bead. Monkeys enthusiastically adorn branches with baubles and giraffe arrives to place a star atop the tree. Now it is time, and all the animals of the forest gather together, and it is "hushed in the forest, hushed, hushed, hushed, hushed."

It is that "hushed," golden moment that is far too often absent, and I find myself longing for the silence and peacefulness that ritual provides in the chaos of the holiday season.

Stephanie Ashley

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