The Robin & The Fir Tree
Retold by Jason Jameson, Author and Illustrator
Templar Books (Imprint Candlewick), Fiction, Nov. 21, 2021 (US edition)
Suitable for ages: 4-10
Themes: Fir Tree, Robin, Animals, Friendship, Folktale, Legends, Holidays
Opening: “Long ago, in the North, there stood a forest. The trees of the forest grew tall and old, and many animals made their homes in and beneath them.”
In a forest far away from the hustle and bustle of town grows the Fir Tree. The meadow he lives in is beautiful and serene, but the Fir Tree yearns for the excitement of the outside world. His friend the Robin brings him gifts and tells him stories of the places she’s been, the people she’s flown over, and the many things men construct out of wood.
The Fir Tree dreams of adventure and wishes to be something more. He imagines a new life as a ship’s mast, traveling the world by sea. When men come to the meadow with axes one day and cut him down, the Fir Tree is eager to be chosen for a new purpose. But the Robin worries. What will become of her strong, beautiful friend? In a lyrical story of friendship and rebirth, Jason Jameson brings a Christmas classic to beautiful new life.
The retelling of the little Fir Tree is both beautiful and heartbreaking. He lives in a magnificent meadow that is peaceful and surrounded by a wide variety of trees that change colors with the seasons, as his needles remain green. And there are creatures large and small, including his friendship with Robin, who decorates his home with roses in the Fir Trees branches. But the Fir Tree is not content with everything remaining the same and longs to know what lies beyond the meadow.
When the Fir Tree is selected for the town Christmas tree, he’s excited that people will be able to admire his beauty. But, his moment of glory is short-lived. Robin is a true friend and stays with his friend through the rest of the story. It is a sad story, but it also is a story of rebirth. And the ending is hopeful.
This is a beautifully packaged book with a heavy cover that is decorated in gold. The first letter of each new page is ornately designed. Jameson’s illustrations are stunning, with much detail for young readers to explore. This is a holiday book families will treasure for years to come. It also makes a perfect holiday gift.
Resources: This story is perfect to read after families decorate their trees. If read in the classroom, teachers may want to compare Hans Christian Anderson’s story with this new retelling. It may make for some interesting discussions. And, it would be interesting to ask kids to think about the message in this story. Have they ever felt like the fir tree?
Jason Jameson studied animation at the Royal College of Art and has more than fifteen years of experience in character development, design, and animation direction. He is the cofounder and creative director of Unanico Group, an award-winning media company, and has produced and animated several short films. He lives in London.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
*Review copy provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.