Throwback Thursday — The Angel Tree

Welcome to Throwback Thursday! Today I am sharing a middle-grade contemporary holiday novel with a mystery element which highlights friendship, community service, and kindness.

 

About the Book

A heartwarming Christmas mystery and friendship story! 

Every Christmas in the small town of Pine River, a tree appears in the town square–the Angel Tree. Some people tie wishes to the tree, while others make those wishes come true. Nobody’s ever known where the tree comes from, but the mystery has always been part of the tradition’s charm.

This year, however, four kids who have been helped–Lucy, Joe, Max, and Cami–are determined to solve the mystery and find out the true identity of the town’s guardian angel, so that Pine River can finally thank the person who brought the Angel Tree to their town.


This is a heartwarming Christmas mystery, full of friendship, discovery, and loads of holiday cheer!

‘PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY’ REVIEW:
“Full of the type of warmth and good cheer found in favorite holiday movies, author and PW reviewer Benedis-Grab’s lively tale spotlights the time-honored tradition—and can-do citizens—that make a small town great, even in the face of financial struggle. Nobody is certain who is behind the stately Angel Tree that appears in the Pine River town square each year, but everyone knows that when people tie notes containing their Christmas wishes to the tree, the wishes are granted. This year, middle-schoolers Cami, Max, Lucy, and Joe (all of whom have benefitted from the Angel Tree’s bounty) try to uncover the tree’s benefactor and thank him or her. As the kids puzzle through clues, they discover things that bring them closer to their families, neighbors, and each other—all in time for a satisfying, celebratory reveal. Ages 8–12.”

Amazon



My Thoughts About This Book:

I saw this book on the fiction shelf in the children’s section of the local public library a couple of weeks after Christmas last year. Since I love to read holiday fiction and non-fiction year round, I grabbed it, checked it out, and took it home.

This is a heartwarming story about four diverse middle-schoolers who make it their common goal to discover who the beneficent organizer and underwriter of the town’s Angel Tree and annual charitable holiday acts is. The person’s identity has been a mystery for over three decades, and these children want to do something wonderful to celebrate this person’s generosity.

The group of four–five if you count Lucy’s guide dog, Valentine, who is helpful in discovering some important clues–is made up of Cami, an talented African-American musician who is being raised by her grandmother because she is an orphan; Lucy, a blind Chinese girl adopted by her American parents when she was a baby; Valentine, Lucy’s guide dog that is facing a serious health challenge of her own; Joe, the new kid in town who has a bad attitude and a secret; and Max, the class clown who has some serious family problems on his plate. Of note, Joe and Max are living in poverty due to familial circumstances; their relationship did not get off to a good start when Joe came to town.

Despite their differences, under the leadership of Cami the four of them work through their issues with each other and pull together to solve the mystery of the Angel Tree.

The story includes several instances where each character is facing an individual challenge. This was one of the things I liked the most about this book — it wasn’t a fairy tale with a happily ever after ending. The main characters dealt with realistic problems and obstacles on the pathway of life in order to improve their lives and the lives of their family members and the community. The group’s dynamics were also believable and enjoyable.

Oh, did I mention the cover? The magical Christmas tree with the silhouetted main characters on the cover perfectly portrays the inner beauty revealed throughout this story.

I look forward to reading more of this author’s work in the future.

Highly-recommended as a family, classroom, and youth group/church group read-aloud book.

I borrowed this book from the local public library.


About the Author

AUTHOR PHOTO

Daphne is the author of middle grade books Army Brats, (nominated for the Louisiana Reader’s Choice Award) Clementine for Christmas, The Chocolate Challenge and The Angel Tree (nominated for the Triple Crown Children’s Book Award), and the young adult books The Girl in the Wall (an ALA Quick Pick) and Alive and Well in Prague, New York (a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of 2008).  Her short stories have appeared in American Girl Magazine.  She earned an MFA at The New School and is an adjunct professor at The New School and McDaniel College, as well as a former high school history teacher. She lives in New York City with her husband, kids and cat, and is currently studying at to become a librarian.

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