The Queen and the First Christmas Tree: Queen Charlotte’s Gift to England
Nancy Churnin, Author
Luisa Uribe, Illustrator
Albert Whitman & Company, Nonfiction, Oct. 1, 2018
Suitable for Ages: 5-7
Themes: Christmas Tree, England, Queen Charlotte, History, Tradition
Opening: “Charlotte wasn’t like other princesses.”
When Princess Charlotte left her home in Germany to marry King George III of England in 1761, she brought her family’s favorite Christmas tradition with her — decorating a yew bough with flowers and ribbons.
Years later, Charlotte became a queen devoted to charity and bettering the lives of families. She planned a Christmas Day celebration for more than one hundred children, rich and poor to mark the turn of the century. But she needed more than a yew branch to make the day special. She needed a tree decked with candles and paper baskets of treats. Though such a thing had never been seen before in England, Charlotte and her descendants would make the Christmas tree a cherished part of the holiday season.
Charlotte loved helping children so much she went on to build orphanages with cozy beds and loving caregivers. She also built hospitals for expectant mothers so more women would survive to care for their children. She had a love nature and spent long hours in the gardens of Windsor Castle.
What I like about this book:
The holidays are special time for gathering and sharing. This charming story will introduce children to the history of a cherished tradition — the Christmas tree — brought to England by a German princess. Nancy Churnin’s richly textured story is light-hearted and will remind children and parents of the magic and wonder of decorating the family tree. Luisa Uribe’s illustrations are lively and joyful, but capture the simplicity of the early 1800s.
Queen Charlotte loved her own 15 children, but had a big heart for all children. She planned a party for 100 children to celebrate the new century in 1800. The children at court helped her cut string, and wrap nuts, fruit and toys in colored papers and hung them on a tree. They added small wax candles to light the tree. Charlotte was a queen focused on serving.
Make sure you read the two-page spread about Queen Charlotte at the end of the book and how this tradition continued with her children, including Queen Victoria.
Resources: Talk about how early Christmas trees were decorated and how they are decorated today. Take your family to your community tree lighting ceremony. Parents and teachers can turn this beautiful story into a tree-planting project at home and school during the year.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
*Review copy provided by publisher.