One Splendid Tree


32 pages
ISBN 1-55337-638-8
DDC jC813'.54





Illustrations by Dianne Eastman
Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University. She is the author of several books, including The
Mountain Is Moving: Japanese Women’s Lives, Kurlek and Margaret
Laurence: The Long Journey Home.


Hattie and Junior create a Christmas tree out of an abandoned plant left
by previous tenants in the hallway of their new boarding house. Father
is away, fighting in a war overseas. Money is scarce. Mother has moved
Hattie and Junior with her to the city to so that she can take a factory
job. In a large, bushy plant found in the hallway of their new home,
Junior sees the potential for the Christmas tree they cannot afford to
buy, and his enthusiasm finally convinces his sister to join him in
transforming the strange plant. He thinks that they can make their own
decorations, beginning with paper chains.

It feels like magic as decorations slowly take shape. Scraps of white
wool tied in the right places become snowmen. Hattie’s hair-ribbons
make colourful bows. Neighbours in nearby rooms contribute popcorn
chains, two shiny silver bells, a bright red scarf to wrap around the
cracked pot, and snow scenes cut from Christmas cards. When a small
package from father arrives in the mail, it turns out to be a delicate
golden angel, quite perfect for the top of the tree. In the end, the
tree has turned the isolated residents of the boarding house into
friendly neighbours, and the house has become a community.

Diane Eastman retired from advertising to design and illustrate
children’s books. Her colourful, full-page illustrations manage to
merge realism with whimsy and imagination. Marilyn Helmer’s story
wonderfully captures the spirit of Christmas. The children feel that
they have made magic, and indeed they have. Highly recommended.


Helmer, Marilyn., “One Splendid Tree,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,