Day 1 of our picture book countdown to Christmas begins this year with a sweet little ode to a tiny Christmas tree. Here is Little Tree by e.e. cummings, illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray, 1923/1987.

I stumbled upon this one a year or two ago and was immediately drawn to it for several reasons. During high school, I discovered the poetry of e.e. cummings and I fell hard. I wrote a lot of poetry during my teenage years, all of which remains hidden somewhere at my parents’ home, hopefully never to see the public eye. I loved poetry and felt its very artistic form of writing. I was also drawn to e.e. cummings in particular for his experimentation in typography and especially punctuation. It is a very odd thing to discover a professional person who completely breaks societal rules with their work. I found him fascinating, in form and expression.

The text for Little Tree was written in 1923. It is a beautiful poem, set actually on one page as cummings would have intended it in the back of this book as well. It is sweet and tender, written from the voice of a child choosing, caring for, and decorating a tiny Christmas tree.

Deborah Kogan Ray has done a delightful job setting cummings’ poem in the city. Her illustrations are soft and not overly detailed. They exude a warm feeling, much like the season of Christmas warrants. Since I discovered this book once we moved to the city, it holds particular joy for me as it quite closely mimics the feelings we experience of walking to a street tree seller, selecting a small tree to fit our apartment, carrying it home, and decorating it. It is a tradition we cherish and this book captures that feeling.

“and my little sister and I will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we’ll dance and sing
‘Noel Noel'”

See you tomorrow as we make our way to Christmas with 25 Children’s Books in 2017!