________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 8 . . . . December 12, 1997

cover The Angel Tree.

Robin Muller.
Toronto, ON.: Doubleday Canada, 1997.
32pp., cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 0-385-25560-8.

Subject Headings:
Blacksmithing-Juvenile fiction.
Angels-Juvenile fiction.
Trees-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool - grade 2 / Ages 4 - 7.
Review by Jennifer Sullivan.

**** /4

image Storyteller and artist Robin Muller offers up a visual feast with The Angel Tree. Kids and parents alike will be enchanted with Muller's treatment of the age-old theme, "even in the deepest darkness, there is a silver thread of hope."

      Kit is a young blacksmith's apprentice who lived long ago and far to the west of the Pokahana River. Since his parents' deaths, Kit has hauled coal, fetched water, and worked the furnace's bellows for Grimshaw, his evil master. Kit's only respite from the long days of toil is stretching out under the branches of an ancient tree that sits in the yard of the run-down smithy. One day, the song of a sparrow perched high in the boughs of the old tree captures Kit's attention. But when Grimshaw discovers that Kit has neglected his work, he savagely strikes at the tree with his ax. Together with a beautiful angel, Kit attempts to save the tree by using some magic tools: a dainty trowel to break the rock and allow the roots room to grow; a pair of delicately curved shears to cut back the limbs; and, a beautifully curved pitcher for water. That night, Kit is disturbed by a terrible dream and awakens to discover that the magic tools have been stolen. Terrified that the tree will perish, Kit is forced to seek the help of a mysterious stranger and summon all his inner strength and hope. But will that be enough to save his beloved tree? image

      Muller has won a number of awards for illustration, including the 1985 Municipal Chapter of Toronto IODE Book Award for The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and the 1989 Governor General's Award in the Children's Literature - Illustration category for The Magic Paintbrush. Muller's magical worlds of folk and fairy are brought to life through his illustrations which are striking in their luminosity and depth. In The Angel Tree, the incandescent pictures glow with brightness and life. An expression of joy lights the face of golden-haired Kit as he listens to the sparrow trilling in the tree. Sunlight filters across the sky and through the branches of the ancient tree, transforming it into a "glorious green sentinel". Starlight and moonlight cast an eerie glow when Kit fears that the magic tools have been stolen, and firelight streams across the page as a great bolt of thunder turns the forge into a glowing inferno.

      This beautiful book will be asked for time and time again. Each picture is accompanied by a full page of text, and the plot is full of enough twists and turns to satisfy older readers. To keep young minds occupied, Muller adds lots of detail and depth to his illustrations that stretch far into the horizon.

Highly recommended.

Jennifer Sullivan works within the Canadian Children's Literature Service of the National Library of Canada.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364