Red and Lulu

illus. by Matt Tavares. 40p. Candlewick. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763677336.
PreS-Gr 2—Surrounded by lights and singing, Christmas is by far the favorite season for Red and Lulu, a pair of cardinals living year-round in a big beautiful evergreen tree. Tragedy strikes late one autumn when the tree is cut down and hauled away with Lulu in it. Red chases the truck as far as he can, ending up lost and alone in New York City. When snow starts to fall, he seeks shelter by following the sound of a familiar song, "O Christmas Tree." He finds Lulu and his tree illuminated in Rockefeller Center, surrounded by a sea of happy people. A brief history of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition, which started in 1931, is explained in an afterword. Tavares's detailed watercolor-and-gouache illustrations expertly capture the seasonal atmosphere, including the tension one feels as Red and Lulu are separated from each other. The happy reunion and resolution (including the fact that the tree is recycled and used to build homes for families in need and that the avian couple moves to Central Park) should reassure even the most sensitive of readers.
VERDICT A lovely New York story for most holiday collections.

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