7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #260: Featuring
One Very Possible and Very Festive
2011 Holiday Illustration Before Breakfast #9

h1 December 18th, 2011 by jules

“Henry planted the pinecone beside the new house. In time, a seedling emerged. Henry watered and weeded it. As time passed, both he and the tree grew tall and strong. Henry especially liked to hammer away in its shade, and he became quite a good carpenter, building many projects with his skilled hands.”
(Click to enlarge and see entire spread from which this comes)

Today’s featured holiday title, The Carpenter’s Gift, is a tribute to the tradition of annually erecting a Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Historian David Rubel wrote this one in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, and it’s illustrated by Jim LaMarche, whose work I’m always interested to see. (I think this one is rendered in colored pencil, but don’t quote me on that.)

It’s the tale of a young boy named Henry and his family, struggling during the Great Depression. The boy and his father, down on their luck, sell Christmas trees to workers in Midtown Manhattan and then later are given a kind surprise from those same workers on a cold Christmas morning. I don’t want to give the plot away, but the book takes readers through Henry’s life and ties into Habitat for Humanity, since every year since 2007 the lumber from the tree chosen for Rockefeller Center has been used to build a Habit for Humanity home and help families in need.

“Rubel’s story of compassion hits all the right holiday notes,” writes the Horn Book. “LaMarche’s lush, warm illustrations of glowing Christmas trees and smiling, caring characters drive home the central message of charity.” This is an earnest picture book text, and LaMarche was the perfect choice for illustrator; he brings both gravity and warmth to the book with the details in his artwork and his (always lovely) use of light.

And it’s certainly a good choice for introducing children to these two American traditions — the Rockefeller tree and Habit for Humanity International. It’s fiction, to be clear, but facts about both are included in notes at the close of the book.

* * * * * * *

THE CARPENTER’S GIFT: A CHRISTMAS TALE ABOUT THE ROCKEFELLER CENTER TREE. © 2011 by David Rubel. Illustrations © 2011 by Jim LaMarche. Published by Random House, New York, NY. Images reproduced by permission of the publisher.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

I’m going to keep it short again this week. Whatever nastiness visited me last weekend showed up again this week and lingered too long. I do finally feel better but am behind on everything. in. the. whole. entire. wide. world. Or so it seems to me.

My kicks are that Christmas cookies are finally decorated—we even dug out and finally used our ninja cookie cutters, so we have a Ninja Claus cookie, too beautiful to even eat—and that the episode of Saturday Night Live I just watched (let it be known I’m a ginormous and long-time SNL Geek) was the best of the season thus far.

Also, I love this story (and that song — AND that flat-out gorgeous cover). Thanks to Eisha for that link.

My apologies for the brevity, but I spent most of the week either coughing or resting. What are YOUR kicks this week?

18 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #260: Featuring
One Very Possible and Very Festive
2011 Holiday Illustration Before Breakfast #9”

  1. I hope you get caught up on things today, Jules. It’s overwhelming to feel behind on EVERYTHING, and I’m glad you’re feeling better.

    Thanks again for these holiday book posts you’ve been doing. I am behind on my journals, so this is helping me make sure I get some of this year’s best holiday books before they rush out of print. I can’t believe how quickly that happens these days.

    My kicks:
    1. Last Sunday was my birthday, and the celebration lasted all week.
    2. For instance, I got a CD and card in the mail from Jules on Monday that are the best things ever.
    3. And on Friday, I got together with a friend and celebrated by eating ice cream cake and watching the first three episodes of season two of The Walking Dead.
    4. The Walking Dead. Shane. Dude.
    5. Yesterday I went to see Young Adult, which was funny and uncomfortable in the exact right proportions. It’s the kind of movie you’ll think about for a while.
    6. I should note, too, that I saw Young Adult with a guy I’ve been dating who I actually like. I wasn’t particularly looking for that, and it’s been nice.
    7. Last night, I went out with a group of friends to see the Santaland Diaries, which I’d never seen staged before. The actor who did it (it’s a one man show by David Sedaris–I just kind of assume everyone knows this) was fantastic. Even better, we wound up chatting with him after the show and got to talking about our favorite late-night cupcake shop, which we were heading to, and the actor launched into a spot-on extended impression of one of the cupcake place’s employees, who is one of these people that is 90% of the reason that people go to that shop. I would have paid the cost of a ticket to the show just to see that impression.
    7.5. And then we went to the cupcake place and saw the real guy. And had cupcakes. Yesterday was a good day.

  2. A couple of weeks ago, driving home from work in the dark, I nearly hit a tall buck that burst from the woods to the roadside. I struggled to capture in words that close encounter until I found the right form (gleaned through studying the work of poet Ted Hughes):

    The Buck
    By Steven Withrow

    Invisibly brown
    As the headlamps seize
    On his antlered crown

    This phantom wood-woad
    Ambles to the verge
    Of the brambled road

    Dogging his doe
    With a heartsick vim
    That grips him, though

    The car’s glare stuns
    His love-glazed eyes
    Like doubled suns.

    To the driver, time
    Has staggered and stalled
    In a pantomime

    Of startled stag
    Raking the slow wind
    Once with a jag

    Of his heavy rack
    And a rime of ice
    Down his stiff brown back.

    The braking wail
    Mimics the mutts
    That nipped at his tail

    Till, shaking his fears,
    Trembles the hedge
    And he disappears.

    Copyright 2011 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

  3. Adrienne, reading your happy kicks made me so happy for you. Happy happy happy all-around I can’t stop saying happy. I’m glad you finally saw The Walking Dead and that I’m not alone in muttering “duuuuude” about Shane. I’m thinking Young Adult might realistically be a DVD watch for me (given how we don’t get out to see movies often), but I’m still eager to see it.

    Steven, that’s beautiful. I always worry about deer rushing out. I’m glad you’re okay, but also that you created something like that from the experience.

  4. […] [h/t to Jules] […]

  5. Jules, this has been such a great holiday season here at 7-Imp. Thanks so much for all these posts.

    And that’s SOME story behind that video, hmm? Of course I had to steal it right away…

  6. Happy holidays, imps everywhere!

    Thumbs-up for Habitat for Humanity. The book looks beautiful.

    Jules: Sending you another round of healthy vibes, just in case. Ninja Claus!

    Eisha: We miss you!

    Adrienne: Happy belated birthday to you! Hi to your boyfriend and your friends. Glad you’ve having such a great week/month!

    Steve: Glad that you and the buck are okay.

    Here are my kicks from the past week:

    1) Third weekend of my current play
    2) I was offered a role in a staged reading
    3) I auditioned for a musical yesterday
    4) People being less stressed out
    5) Alice in Wonderland
    6) The music of Maria Mena
    7) Moving pictures

  7. Love the ilustrations, the colors are so warm and cozy. What a great story for this season.

    Jules! Hope you are on the mend and feeling better soon! The Ninja Claus sounds awesome.

    Thanks for sharing great music as always, I cannot get over how pure and clear the girls’ voices are – stunning cover.

    adrienne – happy late birthday and hooray for birthday celebrations that last a week (or longer). Great list of kicks, and glad to hear you liked Young Adult – its on my list to see this week if possible.

    Steven – glad you and the buck are ok. Lovely poem.

    LW – congrats on landing the staged reading, and here’s hoping you land the musical too! Less stressed is always a good thing.

    My kicks this week:
    1) a catch-up phone call with an old friend in LA. Lots of laughing at shared experiences.
    2) It was cold but sunny most of this past week in Portland. Love. The. Sunshine.
    3) Helped a client get married this past week, which is not usually in my job description. It took some scrambling but it all worked out, and the couple was very happy. Happy is always nice to see.
    4)Watched Limitless, which was better than I expected it to be.
    5) Played soccer again for the first time in 3 months. Midnight game so beers afterwards. Very fun.
    6)Friends/co-workers bringing their adorable babies to work – too much cuteness!
    7)Christmas is almost here!

    Happy holidays everyone!

  8. John, so happy you shared the link. Someone give them a record deal already!

    Little Willow, congrats on the role! I will have to look up Maria Mena. Thanks for the well-wishes. I finally feel better.

    Rachel, good to hear you had a happy week. Are you still cat-sitting, too? I will also have to look up Limitless. Midnight soccer? Rawk.

    Happy holidays, all!

  9. Rachel (rm): Thank you! I hope you’re doing all right. 🙂

    Jules: Maria Mena is a wonderful singer and songwriter. She tells such wonderful stories. Keep your strength up! Thanks for the congrats.

    I just got a phone call – I have a callback for the musical tomorrow! Monday! Think good thoughts! 🙂

  10. Break a leg, LW!

  11. My one kick is that I know people like all of you who have time this weekend to do long kicks! I have done what I always do which is do tons of Christmas preparations the day after Thanksgiving, feel totally on top of things so I don’t do anything else, and then right around now realize how much more I still have to do!! Off to do… Merry, merry and Happy, happy to all and feel better Jules!!!

  12. Hey Jules, yes kitty sitting until spring. Skittle seems to have settled in nicely. She’s a very affectionate kitty, which I am not used to, Ariel liked to be near me, but not on top of me.

    Thanks LW! I am hanging in there. Good luck on that callback!

  13. Stacey, good luck!

    Rachel, Skittle! Yes, that was the name. So obscenely cute.

  14. Rachel: I’m so glad that you have a kitty to dote on! I’ve found cat-sitting to be quite therapeutic. Say hi to Skittle for me.

    Happy holidays to you, Stacey!

    Thanks, Jules!

  15. Love LaMarche’s work and finally got to do a book with him. (The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodby.)

    Great poem, Steve.

    My kicks:

    1. Family gathering for the holidays. Thirteen year old Alison seems to have grown two inches since October!

    2. First copy of TAKE TWO arrived, my book of twin poems written with J. Patrick Lewis.

    3, Saw gorgeous cover for new novel, CURSE OF THE THIRTEENTH FEY.

    4. Wrote some poems, and some work on a new novel and a sort story.

    5. Walking well after a bad fall Thanksgiving and a small fracture in my right foot.

    Happy holidays all.

    Jane Y

  16. Jane, yikes. No more bad falls. Glad you’re feeling better. Enjoy the holidays with your family.

  17. 1. hope you feel better jules
    2. articles accepted for publication
    3. little children eating gingerbread house pieces
    4. days till christmas
    5. cheers for something to read
    6. hours left at work today
    7. candies i ate for brunch (tasty truffles)


  18. Best Use of Numbers One Through Seven, Anna! Congrats on impending publication!

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