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November 28, 2022

The Great Tree by Able Barrett ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

The Great Tree resides on a high mountaintop next to a castle. The village below lives in its shadow in more than one way. Children who are lured up the mountain to see the tree are never seen again for the castle is home to an evil sorcerer who commands a great black wolf and the Charnelgoul. One boy is insistent that he travels up the mountain for his mother's dying wish is to see the son who was snatched by the Prince of Darkness. Will Andrew be able to rescue Nicholas or will he too be lost to the evil sorcerer?

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of children's Christmas story The Great Tree by Able Barrett
October 2022; BookBaby; 978-1667864631
ebook, print (48 pages); folklore 

I don't read a lot of middle grades or chapter books, but I feel like this story would appeal to children eight years old and older. It would be of particular interest to readers who like sword & sorcery stories. 

The Great Tree is a slightly different take on Saint Nick/Santa Claus lore. Like a lot of folklore and fairy tales, it is darker than the Disney version of the mythos. It is definitely not the common story of St. Nicholas. 

As an adult reader, I saw some problems with the story such as too much repetition, though that is expected in a children's chapter book. The other problem was how some of the characters were introduced. They just appeared. I'm not really sure how to explain it, but again, I don't think a younger reader would notice or even care. Liberty is taken with the St. Nicholas history and I'm okay with that. But I was kind of confused by a sentence about the beginning of the decorated Christmas tree tradition.

"Soon, everyone’s home was adorned with a Christmas tree, decorated in the tradition of the Great Tree, and in anticipation of the birth of baby Jesus." (p. 40)

One, Christmas wasn't celebrated until after the birth of Jesus. The winter solstice was celebrated by pagan cultures and Hankakuh was celebrated by the Jews, but not Christmas (the first record of Christmas being celebrated is AD 336). And two, one of the earliest records of a decorated tree was in 1570. Perhaps, celebration is meant instead of anticipation. I found a few occasions of odd word choices so maybe that is what is going on in this sentence. Will younger readers notice any of this? Probably not, but if it does then it will give you opportunities to discuss the book with your child.

This book could be appealing to reluctant readers with its action scenes and good versus evil theme. There are also a few illustrations scattered throughout the chapters  

If you are looking for a different take on Santa Claus this Christmas, then you should give The Great Tree a try.

Buy The Great Tree at Amazon
(Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read the ebook for FREE)

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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