Saturday, November 24, 2012

Kid Konnection: The Carpenter's Gift & Giveaway

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a beautiful picture book that celebrates the 80th anniversary of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

Summary: This new classic Christmas gift book "brings together two great traditions: the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and the neighbor-helping-neighbor program of Habitat for Humanity." Opening in Depression-era New York City, The Carpenter's Gift tells the story of eight-year-old Henry and his father selling Christmas trees. They give a Christmas tree to construction workers building Rockefeller Center and celebrate together. Through the kindness of the construction workers and neighbors, Henry gets his wish for a nice, warm home to replace his family's drafty shack. He plants a pinecone from that first Rockefeller Center Tree. As an old man, Henry repays the gift by donating the enormous tree that has grown from that pinecone. After bringing joy to thousands as the Rockefeller Center tree, its wood will be used to build a home for another family in need. -- Random House

If you are looking for a picture book to give a special child in your life this holiday season, then look no further. THE CARPENTER'S GIFT: A CHRISTMAS TALE ABOUT THE ROCKEFELLER CENTER TREE by David Rubel and illustrated by Jim LaMarche is perfect! It's a beautifully illustrated story about the the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and the charity Habitat for Humanity, but it also contains an extremely special message about the importance of giving back.

THE CARPENTER'S GIFT takes place in New York City during the Depression. A poor, young boy named Henry and his father head to Manhattan to sell Christmas trees. They end up giving one of their trees to the construction workers who are building Rockefeller Center. In return, these same workers show up at Henry's house the following day and repay the kindness by building Henry's family a new home.

Henry ends up planting a pine cone from that first Rockefeller Center Tree, and through the years, that pine cone grows into a beautiful tree. The story comes full circle when Henry donates that very same tree to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Not only does the tree bring holiday job to thousands, but the wood is also used to build a new home for another family.

I have to admit that THE CARPENTER'S GIFT touched my heart and I might have even shed a tear or two. It's just a sweet story with such a profound message, and it epitomizes everything I love about the holiday season. I tend to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and even forget the real meaning of Christmas. I love that I can read THE CARPENTER'S GIFT, especially with my kids, and take some time to recognize that I have a duty to give back to those less fortunate than I.

THE CARPENTER'S GIFT was written in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, and there is information about both the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and Habitat for Humanity in the back of the book. I didn't know this prior to reading this THE CARPENTER'S GIFT, but Habitat for Humanity has an annual tradition, which began in 2007, of using wood milled from the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to build a home for a family in need.

Check out this video about the making of THE CARPENTER'S GIFT:

And I'm thrilled to say that the author of THE CARPENTER'S GIFT, David Rubel, has written a special guest post giving readers a glimpse into the inspiration behind his book:

When I wrote The Carpenter’s Gift during the fall and winter of 2010–2011, there was no way I could avoid thinking about the similarities between the Great Depression of the 1930s and the economic difficulties of the present day. No one knew in 1931 just how bad things would get, and we didn’t know either in 2010 what greater difficulties the future would hold. The parallels between the 1930s and the current state of the economy still resonate today, I think.

But that wasn’t the only connection I made to Depression-era America. While writing The Carpenter’s Gift, I also thought a lot about the Frank Capra film It’s a Wonderful Life, which also recalls the Great Depression but in a Habitat sort of way. In that film, the main character, George Bailey, spends most of his life helping the townspeople of Bedford Falls build simple, decent, affordable homes. This work comes at the expense of his own dreams and ambitions, but he does it gladly until, in a moment of crisis, he doubts whether he has made the right choice for himself and his family. Happily, his neighbors rally to him in his time of need, and he remembers why he took on the work of helping others in the first place: because giving of himself made him feel so good inside. 

Whenever I watch that movie, I always tear up at the end when George finds redemption in the love and gratitude of his neighbors. The entire film really builds to that moment, in which the feeling of finding one’s place in a moral, spiritually generous world is so exquisitely distilled. I kept thinking about that scene while writing Carpenter’s Gift because I wanted that feeling to permeate my story as well. As I wrote and edited what I had written, I literally asked myself, Will these words make readers feel the way I feel when I watch It’s a Wonderful Life? It was especially important to me that the last scene of the book, in which Henry passes the hammer on to the young girl, evoke this feeling strongly. I can remember the afternoon I wrote that scene and then read it over for the first time. I teared up the same way I do when Gorge Bailey realizes that his life does have meaning. Is there really any better way to feel? 

I adored everything about THE CARPENTER'S GIFT and I highly recommend reading it this holiday season!

You can check out the rest of the tour here:

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012:
Thursday, November 22nd, 2012:
Friday, November 23rd, 2012: The Book Maven’s Haven

Sunday, November 25th, 2012: {Eat the Book}
Monday, November 26th, 2012: Maestra Amanda’s Boohkshelf
Tuesday, November 27th, 2012:
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 · Nerdy Book Club · Watch. Connect. Read · SharpRead

Giveaway alert: I have a copy of THE CARPENTER'S GIFT to share with one lucky reader. To enter, just fill out the form below before November 30th at 11:59 p.m. ET. I will randomly select and notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!
If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


bermudaonion said...

Oh my gosh, what a fabulous book! I can tell from the trailer that it's beautiful!

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine said...

Sounds like a really great story!