The Halloween Tree by Susan Montanari and illustrated by Teresa Martinez

While all the other trees on the tree farm are excited to be purchased for Christmas, one gnarled and grumpy tree is relieved to be left behind. The tree doesn’t like lights. Doesn’t like decorations. Most certainly doesn’t like people. But as time passes, and a neighborhood sprouts up around the old farm, some children find that even a grumpy old tree has a special purpose.

Author Susan Montanari has crafted a charming twist on a classic Christmas tradition. Through snappy text and some minor repetition, she effectively presents a grouchy tree as an irresistible Scrooge. And, much like the Dickens classic, there’s a sweet, endearing message. Molinari keeps the adorable narrative feeling natural, with the Halloween Tree finding purpose in its uniqueness.

All of this is aided by the restrained yet playful illustrations from Teresa Martinez. Through digital artwork, she presents a seemingly normal neighborhood with muted backgrounds offset by attractive pops of color in the action. In the middle is the tree itself— an anthropomorphic anomaly in its own world that usually appears sour. And yet Martinez expertly captures its subtle changes in emotion and expression, particularly in a few spreads as the tree comes to understand what it truly wants. It’s illustrative storytelling at its finest.

Charming and heartwarming, The Halloween Tree just might inspire a new tradition for all of those unique trees that would like a little sprucing up on Halloween.


Title: The Halloween Tree
Author: Susan Montanari
Illustrator: Teresa Martinez
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Publication Date: August 06, 2019
Classification: Picture Book

Montanari’s Website | Martinez’s Twitter | Publisher’s Page | Goodreads


Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.

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