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Michael Cutting
Illustrated by Ron Broda

Toronto, North Winds Press (a division of Scholastic-TAB),1990. 19pp,cloth, $12.95
ISBN 0-590-73652-3. CIP


Michael Cutting
Narrated by Christopher Plummer

Toronto, North Winds Press (a division of Scholastic-TAB),1990. Audio cassette, $10.95, ISBN 0-590-73674-4.
Book and cassette gift package, $24.95, ISBN 0-590-736675-1 CIP

Pre-school to Grade 4/Ages 4 to 9
Reviewed by Patricia LM. Butler.

Volume 18 Number 6
1990 November

One night a snow storm rages at Brown's Christmas Tree Farm, blowing a small white dove into the branches of the little Christmas tree. She's ready to lay her eggs and asks the tree to bring together its softest branches to form a nest. In helping the dove, however, the little tree develops a hump in its trunk, making it unacceptable to Farmer Brown and to all the families who come at Christmas seeking the perfect tree for their homes. The tree spends a lonely winter after the dove and her family have gone, pondering the meaning and importance of Christmas and trees.

The hump on the little tree allows first-time children's author Cutting to explore three equally important issues —the meaning of Christmas (and why a Christmas tree?), the recognition of each person's importance despite imperfec­tions (the little tree is snubbed by humans and fellow trees alike), and the ecological considerations of harvesting trees for a once-in-a-lifetime job! All three of these issues are dealt with in a subtle manner, accompanied by delight­ful photographs of the bright cut-paper illustrations by Broda (although the ratio of text to illustration is sometimes rather high).

Christopher Plummer's narration is charming, his diction and vocal charac­terizations easily capturing the attention of even the youngest listener. Carols sung by the Appleby College Boys Choir and Craig Ruhnke's music (mainly sound effects) contribute to the pleasant experience of listening to a story well told and cleanly recorded. The story is recorded on each side of the cassette, eliminating waits that can be frustrating for the younger listener.

The Crooked Little Christmas Tree is definitely recommended for purchase both as a Christmas story and as an ecological tale.

Patricia LM. Butler, Scarborough, Ont.
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