Name of Book: Night Tree
Author: Eve Bunting
Illustrator: Ted Rand
Publisher: Voyager Books Harcourt Brace & Company
Summary: On Christmas Eve, a family treks into the woods to trim an evergreen with edible decorations for the forest animals.
Literary elements at work in the story: A fictional telling of a family Christmas Eve ritual told from the point of view of the about 10 year old son. The text has a quiet, reverential tone and the illustrations are in Ted Rand’s characteristic glowing style. Father, Mother, son and young daughter smile, sing and take care of the natural world and each other in this sweet picture book.
Theological conversation partners: The endearing text and beautiful illustrations are reason enough to have this book in a family library but its link to the observance of Advent makes it a faithful choice as well. Anticipating the yearly event, preparing (“For weeks we’ve been making balls of sunflower seeds and pressed millet and honey.”) and showing light in the dark night are qualities of the Advent season. There is a contemplative feel of the next to last page’s wording and painting of the boy tucked in bed looking out the window. The boy’s face turned to and illuminated by the full moon conveys peace and wondering.
Faith Talk Questions:
- What rituals do you remember from your childhood Advent seasons?
- What rituals are a part of your family’s Advent observance?
- How is light portrayed in Night Tree?
- What was the boy thinking about in bed after the family’s pilgrimage to the woods? When you are feeling reflective, to where do you “let your mind go back”?
- The family extends generosity to each other in their interactions and to the woodland animals in their tree decorating. What are examples of generous acts given during holiday celebrations?
This faith review was prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Robin Crawford.
Night Tree by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.