Family, friendship, and the spirit of giving are at the heart of this inspiring picture book. Opening in Depression-era New York, The Carpenter's Gift tells the story of eight-year-old Henry and his out-of-work father selling Christmas trees in Manhattan. They give one of their leftover trees to construction workers building Rockefeller Center. That tree becomes the first Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, the finest Henry has seen when adorned with homemade decorations. Henry wishes on the tree for a nice, warm house to replace his family's drafty, one-room shack. Through the kindness of new friends and old neighbors, Henry's wish is granted, and he plants a pinecone to commemorate the event. As an old man, Henry repays the gift by donating to Rockefeller Center the enormous tree that has grown from that pinecone. After bringing joy to thousands as a beautiful Christmas tree, its wood will be used to build a home for a family in need.
Written by children's nonfiction author David Rubel, in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, The Carpenter's Gift features charming, full-color illustrations by Jim LaMarche.
Review, The Horn Book, November/December 2011
"Rubel’s story of compassion hits all the right holiday notes; LaMarche’s lush, warm illustrations of glowing Christmas trees and smiling, caring characters drive home the central message of charity."
Review, School Library Journal, October 1, 2011
"Detailed characterizations and a straightforward tone keep the tender tale from becoming saccharine. LaMarche’s almost impressionistic colored-pencil illustrations put readers in the midst of the action."
Review, Publishers Weekly, September 26, 2011
"Author/historian Rubel’s story of a Depression-era family’s connection to that first tree—and the ripple effect of its bounties—puts the now magnificent symbol in perspective. LaMarche conveys emotional resonance with gauzy, soft-hued paintings of the inspirational proceedings."
“The Carpenter’s Gift captures two of New York City’s greatest traditions ― the Rockefeller Center tree lighting and giving back to people in need― in a way that families can share together all year long.” ― Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of the City of New York
“The heartwarming tale told in The Carpenter’s Gift brings together—through beautiful illustrations and a moving, multi-generational story—two great traditions: the Rockefeller Center tree and the neighbor-helping-neighbor program of Habitat for Humanity.” —Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States and dedicated Habitat volunteer
“Through my support of Habitat for Humanity, I have seen all of the good that can happen when people work alongside each other to build something better. I see the same thread in The Carpenter’s Gift, a sweet story” about a young boy whose life is changed when new friends help his family build a house — Susan Sarandon, actress
“My dad was a carpenter who built the house we grew up in, and this book brings to mind his gentle nature and generosity.” — Garrison Keillor, storyteller
WINNER 2011 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio