What could be more delightful to children than a story about a tugboat? I found out when I introduced my students to The Christmas Tugboat. A story about a giant Christmas tree riding down the Hudson River on the back of a full-size trailer truck, sitting on an enormous barge, pulled by a diminutive (by comparison) tugboat – now that is a winning combination in the eyes of my students.
The authors, George Matteson and Adele Ursone, brought personal experience to this picture book. George was a tugboat captain who, late one November, got the assignment to bring the towering Rockefeller Center Christmas tree to New York City. His wife, Adele, and their daughter went along for the two-day adventure and the idea for this book was born. I was intrigued to learn that the Rockefeller Center tree has been a tradition since 1931 – it’s about time we have a book to commemorate the event!
James Ransome’s illustrations richly depict the changing light from the early morning hours of the book’s beginning through sunset and the beginning of a new day, when the tug continues its trip down the river to New Your City. His illustration of the quote below is as beautiful as the words.
“As the first sunlight brushes across the land, Mom points back to the tree. It sparkles all over as if covered with tiny diamonds. ‘The night and the cold have decorated it just for us,’ she says.”
My students wished they could have helped decorate the tree when it finally stood in front of the Rockefeller Center. Since that wasn’t possible, we made a large tree of our own - out of paper. It isn’t as elegant as the Rockefeller tree, but it was adorned with enthusiasm.
Our winter break has begun and I will be taking a mini vacation from blogging to spend time with family, friends and with other writing projects. I will miss the next two Saturdays but I’ll be back on January 12.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or the coming of winter; I hope you are enjoying this festive time of year. And if you happen to pass by the Rockefeller Center, please send us a picture of the tree – I know my students would love to see it!