About the Holiday
Today’s holiday was established by the National Arborist Association to remind people to appreciate the beauty of evergreens that got that name because they stay green year round, These majestic trees add color to the doldrums of winter and remind us that summer will come again. To celebrate, why not take a walk and rediscover the evergreens in your neighborhood!
Arturo and the Navidad Birds / Arturo y los Pájaros de Navidad
Written by Anne Broyles | Illustrated by KE Lewis
The day for decorating the Christmas tree had arrived, and Arturo “bounced up and down in front of the pine tree. ‘Hurry, Abue!’” he exclaimed. The tree looked so empty, but Arturo’s grandmother brought out the box of ornaments, and soon the two were admiring the little treasures. A tiny mouse nestled into a walnut shell bed had been made by Abue Rosa’s mother when she was a little girl. Although it was hard for Arturo to imagine his grandmother as a little girl, he loved hearing the story of how she carried the mouse in her pocket. “‘I called him Hermanito—my little brother! Find a good home on our tree!’” Abue Rosa said. Arturo placed the ornament on a low branch.
The next ornament out of the box was a square piece of “cardboard decorated with mahogany-colored beans.” This had been made by his mother. Arturo hung it in the middle of the tree because his mother “was the middle child between Tío Hernan and Tía Ines.” A donkey ornament that Arturo’s abuelo bought when he and Rosa were first married went high up on the árbol de Navidad. The pair added ornament after ornament on the tree and it “began to shine with Abue Rosa’s stories.” Then Abue Rosa went into the kitchen to fix dinner. While she was gone Arturo rummaged through the box and found a “tiny, blown-glass bird. ‘Fly, bird. Like a plane. Vroom, vroom!’”
The little bird hit the wall and fell to the floor, its wings broken. “Horrified, Arturo covered the pieces with newspaper just before Abue came back.” As they finished decorating the tree, Abue Rosa looked through the box and asked Arturo, “Have you seen the glass pajarito that my dearest friend, Sofie, game me? It’s all I have left from her.” Arturo couldn’t look at his grandmother, instead asking to take a break.
Arturo ran to his room and grabbed the glue, but he couldn’t make the wings stick. As he looked at the broken bird, tears filled his eyes. He wondered if his grandmother could forgive him. Then he had an idea. In the basement he found a pinecone and some craft materials. When he finished making his pinecone bird, he gazed at it in disappointment. It didn’t look like any bird he had ever seen and certainly not like the glass bird.
“‘Donde estas, mi’jo?’” Grandma Rosa called from the top of the stairs. Arturo slowly climbed the stairs, carrying both birds. “Arturo took a deep breath. He held out the homemade bird. ‘I made this for our tree.’” “‘Qué bonita!’” How beautiful, Abue Rosa exclaimed. Arturo continued to tell his grandmother that he made it because….He held out his other hand with the broken bird inside. Abue Rosa gasped, and Arturo felt a sob filling him. “‘I didn’t mean to,’” he said.
Abue Rosa hugged Arturo and told him that even without the bird she still remembered Sofia. “‘Now when I look at this bird you made, I will think of you and Sofia.’” Together they placed the pinecone ornament on the tree and turned on the lights. Afterward, they enjoyed cups of hot chocolate together. “‘The tree is full now,’ Abue said as Arturo snuggled against her, ‘of memories.’ He nodded. ‘And love.’”
Anne Broyles’ story of a boy and his grandmother who share the true meaning of love and memories is a touching holiday read. Through an incident which many children experience in one way or another, Broyles reassures young readers that—as Arturo’s grandmother states—people are more important than things. Her realistic portrayal of Arturo’s and his grandmother’s actions and emotions will resonate with readers, and the close bond between the two is a highlight of the story. Kids will enjoy the details in the stories of the ornaments as well as in Abue Rosa’s home.
Karen Lewis enhances the cozy tone of the story with her sepia-toned illustrations of Abue Rosa’s home and the personal memories surrounding her Christmas tree ornaments. Kids will recognize and empathize with Arturo’s and his grandmother’s feelings, which are genuine and clearly depicted. Kids will also like seeing the homemade and favorite ornaments that Arturo hangs on the tree as well as the loving relationship between Arturo and his Abue Rosa, which is beautifully revealed throughout the story.
Each page is told in both English and Spanish, making Arturo and the Navidad Birds a wonderful holiday choice for English-speaking, Spanish-speaking, and bilingual families.
Ages 4 – 8
Pelican Publishing, 2013 | ISBN 978-1455618019
To learn more about Anne Broyles and her books, as well as to find book-related activities, visit her website!
Discover a portfolio of illustration work, animation, and picture books on Karen Lewis’s website!
Enjoy this Arturo and the Navidad Birds book trailer!
Look for an Evergreen Day Activity
Puzzling Pine Tree Maze
The branches of a tall evergreen tree can form a kind of maze for the birds and squirrels who call them home. Can you find your way through this printable Puzzling Pine Tree Maze?
Picture Book Review