Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Great Holiday Books: The Carpenter's Gift by David Rubel (Review)

Product Details
"This year, Random House Children’s Books and Habitat for Humanity will celebrate the 80th Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree with a picture book inspired by Habitat for Humanity’s annual tradition of using wood milled from the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to build a home for a family in need. THE CARPENTER’S GIFT is an uplifting holiday story for the whole family. This year, the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, November 28th.
Set in Depression-era New York, THE CARPENTER’S GIFT (Random House Books for Young Readers / $17.99 / Ages 5–8) introduces readers to eight-year-old Henry, who helps his out-of-work father sell Christmas trees in Manhattan. One day, they give a leftover tree to construction workers building Rockefeller Center. That tree is the most magnificent Henry has seen, and on it, he makes a Christmas wish for a warm house to replace his family's drafty one-room shack.  When Henry’s wish is granted, he plants a pinecone to commemorate the event.   Years later, he donates the tree that has grown from that pinecone to be the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, with the promise that it will be milled and its lumber used to build a home for another family in need.
Highlighting the timeless themes of charity and good will, THE CARPENTER’S GIFT shows that the best gifts are the ones that are unexpected, and may well inspire readers to do some giving of their own.  Back matter includes a brief history and photo of the first Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, as well as information on Habitat for Humanity International’s mission to build simple, decent homes in which people can live safely, healthfully, and affordably."
My Thoughts:

With the Rockefeller Tree being lit tonight, I thought it would be a nice touch to read The Carpenter's Gift to my daughters this afternoon.  Having received a review copy a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to read through it a few times, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The illustrations alone make this a great holiday book to keep on the coffee table for all to flip through.  But, the story itself is also one to enjoy and cherish, as it deals with charity and good will.

The first time I read through the book, Hurricane Sandy was just about to reach NJ and NY, as she made her way up the Eastern coast.  No one expected the devastation that we saw, nor thought so many people would be displaced from their homes due to flooding and other hurricane damage.  And, by the time I read the book again, I couldn't help but tear up, thinking about all the families affected by Hurricane Sandy.  As I put the book down on the end table, the noontime news came on.  They shared a story about this year's Rockefeller Christmas tree and how it escaped damage in NJ from Hurricane Sandy's viscous path of destruction, to be able to bring joy and the spirit of the season to so many picking up the pieces in NY and the surrounding areas.
 The Carpenter's Gift: A Christmas Tale about the Rockefeller Center Tree

The story of The Carpenter's Gift" centers around this famous tree in Rockefeller Center, while also shedding light on the neighbor-to-neighbor program, Habitat for Humanity, an organization which helps to build new homes for those who can't afford them and are struggling to keep/put a roof over their family's heads.

Children and adults will enjoy this heartwarming story as they gear up for the holiday season ahead. And,tune in tonight on television to see this glorious tree be lit for all to enjoy in Rockefeller Center.  If you enjoy moving stories that make you take a step back and appreciate those you have around you, and the true meaning of the holidays, then you will love The Carpenter's Gift.  I am so glad I had the opportunity to review this book, which will become a staple in our upcoming holiday reading collection for years to come.  Why not share it with you family today?

About the Author and Illustrator:
David Rubel is a nationally recognized author and speaker whose work focuses on making American history accessible to a broad audience. His children's books The Scholastic Encyclopedia of the Presidents and Their Times and The Scholastic Atlas of the United States have become grade-school standards, selling more than half a million copies each in multiple editions. 
Jim LaMarche has illustrated over 20 children’s books, some of which he has also written.  His work has been awarded the Parents Magazine Best Book of the Year; the Irma S. and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Picture Books; and the American Bookseller Association Pick-of-the-List.  He lives in Central California with his wife and children.
About Habitat for Humanity International:
Habitat for Humanity International is a global nonprofit Christian housing organization that seeks to put God’s love into action by bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope. Since 1976, Habitat has served more than 500,000 families by welcoming people of all races, religions, and nationalities to construct, rehabilitate, or preserve homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. For more information, to donate, or to volunteer, please visit, or follow us at or at or join Habitat’s blog community at
About Random House Children's Books:
Random House Children’s Books is the world’s largest English-language children’s trade book publisher. Creating books for toddlers through young adult readers, in all formats from board books to activity books to picture books, novels, ebooks, and apps, the imprints of Random House Children’s Books bring together award-winning authors and illustrators, world-famous franchise characters, and multimillion-copy series. The company’s website, Kids @ Random ( offers an array of activities, games, and resources for children, teens, parents, and educators. Random House Children’s Books is a division of Random House, Inc., whose parent company is Bertelsmann AG, a leading international media company.
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

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