There have been many books written about the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, this one, however, presents the story from the standpoint of a Tugboat Captain and his family. This beautifully illustrated 9 7/8 inch by 11 1/4 inch 40 page children's book presents the story of a tugboat traveling up the Hudson River to Stony Point to tow a barge with the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree back to Manhattan. The author, George Mattesson, along with his wife, Adele Ursone and their daughter, Emily, wrote this book in a cooperative effort based on a real life happening. Each page is a beautiful illustration that conveys the feel and atmosphere of traveling and working on a real tugboat on the Hudson River with the New York City Skyline as a backdrop. The artist, James E. Ransome, uses dark and neutral colors to capture the chill of the waters and the night and early morning of the day as well as the cold darkness of late November weather in his illustrations. The artist painted the tugboat a bright red and white so it would stand out from the dark gray and neutral skyline signifying the joy and accomplishment that comes from a family working together.
Emily was used to her dad getting up in the middle of the night trying not to disturb her and her mother as he prepared for his day's work operating a tugboat out of New York. This morning would be different, however, because she and her mother were accompanying her father on a special mission to pick up and tow the Rockefeller Center Christmas to Manhattan. The three family members arrive at the docks in the middle of the night greeted by the stray cats. Father had taught his daughter well --- "Pay Attention" on the water - even though her mom was worried about her. Emily and her dad start the big yellow engine and they are off on a wonderful cooperative adventure - traveling up the Hudson River at just nine knots or eleven miles an hour. The author knows just how much detail to include in the story to make it interesting for the reader. The reader will experience what life is like on a tugboat from the starting of the big yellow diesel engine to the final unloading of the Rockefeller Center Tree. When reading this book, children will find themselves in the engine room, the pilot house, the galley, the bunk room, the deck and the bow of the tugboat. One of the highlights of the story is when Emily actually steers the tugboat pulling the barge with the Rockefeller Christmas. After experiencing the details of this tugboat task, the reader is excited and joyful as this mission is completed and the tug and its crew and precious cargo are welcomed by helicoptors. red, white and blue streams of water from fire boats and cheering people. While the reader never really sees the actual tree on display in Rockefeller Center, they sense that all things end well.
This is a great book illustrating the importance and the details of a tugboat family's adventures based on the real life experiences of the tugboat captain and his family. It is rather weak on the Christmas theme. However, saying that, I would heartily recommend this book. It would be ideal for a read aloud in the classroom. I give it four stars only because I expected more about Christmas in the book.