Book Review: The Carpenter’s Gift

If you haven’t had the chance to read the new children’s Christmas book, The Carpenter’s Gift, by David Rubel, then you’re missing out!

It’s a story, part fact, part fiction, about the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. It begins during the Great Depression, with Henry and his father selling Christmas trees in New York City, adjacent to where construction workers are building Rockefeller Center. The construction workers are touched by the family’s story, and by their kindness in leaving a Christmas tree for the workers to enjoy, and so the construction crew repays their generosity by building them a new, warm house, to replace the drafty shack they had been living in.

Henry never forgets their kindness, and plants a pinecone near their new home as a remembrance. As he and the spruce tree grow up, his fortunes improve, and he gets married and has a family of his own. As an old man, living alone, he ends up back at the old family homestead, where he continues to lovingly care for his home. He is faced with a decision when he is approached to donate his grand spruce tree to Rockefeller Center, to be the big Christmas tree for the year. Should he let it go? His decision is made for him, however, when he learns what becomes of the tree at the end of the Christmas season–and that’s where the facts in the story come in. Habitat for Humanity planes the tree, and uses it to build affordable homes for people who might not otherwise be able to have a home of their own.

The fictional part of the story is well-written and touching, and the factual part is eye-opening. I had no idea that the Rockefeller Center tree was used for such purposes after Christmas was over! It’s a great story that gives children an idea of what living through the Great Depression might have been like, as well as encourages a spirit of giving at Christmastime–and all without mentioning Santa once! I think this story will be a family favorite for years to come.

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