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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Analyzing for layers--PICK A PINE TREE by Patricia Toht

Even though its the middle of November, I'm in a Christmasy mood!  So I chose a sparkly, new Christmas book fresh off of the library shelf and decided to analyze it for the layers that Julie Hedlund talked about in her FB video.

Here is a picture of the cover--isn't it cute?

Interestingly enough, this book has a unique STRUCTURE in that it is a rhyming poem about the setting up of a Christmas tree, so it does not have much on the layers of PLOT and CHARACTER, but instead it is very strong in HEART, LANGUAGE, AND PACING.

In fact, I'm pretty sure HEART is the reason I chose it!  I'm drawn to those little Hallmark-y places where you can cut down your own Christmas tree as a family, sip some cocoa or cider, and then go home and have a special family night of decorating.  I identified with the description of each step in the process, and my heart does a big "Awww, so sweet!" because of the warm feelings doing this activity evokes each year.  It is a fun, family time!

I call the layer of LANGUAGE "word choice".  Patricia Toht has this layer down pat! Even the title "Pick a Pine Tree" is poetic.  I love the phrase in the book "hang them all in little nooks" because that perfectly describes how we look for the perfect little spot to nestle in our special ornaments.
Other vivid/specific word choices that paint pictures:  
spiky needle clumps, 
snug and sturdy
bundle it upon your sled, 
piney scent, 
thirsty tree, 
bulging boxes, 
rusty tins, 
pointy tips, 
candle clips, 
lacy snowflakes, 
silver drips

She does a nice job with PACING.  There is just the right amount of text on a page.  And many times the page ends with "but wait," "next," "it's a...," Which leads you to the next page.

As I mentioned, this was a book that paints the picture of decorating the tree--not an action driven or conflict driven PLOT.

As for CHARACTER, there is one main family, but there are many other people depicted.  There is not one main character in this book.

The RULE OF THREE is in there, but more subtle.  I found these three's:

one with spiky needle clumps, scaly bark, or sappy bumps.

Lift, bundle, and bring it home

Golden star, velvet bow, angel dressed in flowing robes

I loved the details in the ILLUSTRATIONS, and I notice something new with each reading.  
For example: 
-the red thermos by the tree salesman in the chair at the tree lot,
-the texturizing of the trees,
-the netting on the tree that dad holds while mom trims the trunk,
-the white kitty hiding in the tree,
-the welcoming light from the house as they invite their friends in for a decorating day,
-(and on last page) Santa's sleigh on the roof and Santa in the living room

As you read, you can hear the VOICE in the story that builds and builds to the crescendo:
"Merry Christmas , one and all"

Finally, the THEME is not stated (of course) but I would say it is the joy that comes from family and togetherness at the holidays.

If you read this picture book, look for these layers!  I would love to hear other examples that you find! And great job Patricia Toht and her illustrator Jarvis on a beautiful Christmas book!