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Books

Listen to an excerpt of "The Littlest Christmas Tree"

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A simple book with a complex message


The Littlest Christmas Tree: A Tale of Growing and Becoming
by Janie Jasin

Book Peddlers, $12.95

Review by Stephanie Bowen

Web posted on: Wednesday, June 24, 1998 4:55:58 PM EDT

(CNN) -- This simply written children's book is anything but simple.

It's not only the tale of a young tree seedling growing into a tall and strong grownup tree, but the story of a world of possibilities all woven together through the belief of an almighty creator.

The young seedling has her sights set on becoming the tallest, strongest and most beautiful Christmas tree. But as the seedling starts to grow she learns to appreciate the things around her and understands how her environment affects her growth. Eventually she comes to realize that there are endless opportunities and that her creator will be there for her through it all.

It's a simply written book with a complex message that will be enjoyed more upon reflection than at first glance. At one point the little tree is pondering all of the things she could do in life and says, "Maybe I could be a window frame and hold shiny glass in my arms. Oh, that would be lovely! There are so many possibilities to think about." Then, pausing, she said, "But today I can only grow and become my very best right here where I am planted. I will feel the Sun and the Sky and the Wind and the Rain and I will think about how wonderful it is to grow... just for today." Surely a lesson we all need to sit and ponder now and again.

Jasin introduces faith in a way that is not intimidating and all-encompassing. She uses the story of a seedling starting to grow to express that a foundation of faith can enable a strong and healthy development in life.

An important subtlety that deserves mention is that the main character is a girl. It is the underlying message that there are as many opportunities for little girls as there are for little boys that is important.

Enhancing the words of "The Littlest Christmas Tree" are vibrant illustrations that are sure to capture the hearts of the child in your life. It's hard to believe this is the illustrator's first children's book. Her drawings are filled with birds and flowers and cats and dogs -- the things that captivate kids. There are wonderful scenes of the majestic forest and the cozy living room.

While the title and illustrations suggest that this book should be read at Christmas time (indeed, it would be a lovely family tradition), it can be appreciated anytime of the year.

Stephanie Bowen has worked for CNN for over seven years in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Los Angeles. She is currently exploring the world of creative writing at UCLA and participates in a monthly book group.

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