Pat Hutchins is an under-appreciated children’s book genius, author of titles including the House the Sailed Away and Rosie’s Walk. That classic featured a hapless fox landing in all sorts of trouble as he chases an oblivious chicken around a farm. There’s another fox in The Silver Christmas Tree, but this one’s far more friendly.
A Squirrel decorates his tree for Christmas. ‘He hung garlands of holly and ivy around the branches, bunches of bright red berries between the branches, and pine cones on the tips of the branches. Although it looked nice it didn’t look nice enough’. Mistletoe and polished nuts follow, but the tree is not complete until night falls and a silver star appears.
But when it disappears the poor chap begins to obsess about where it’s gone. He works himself up into a right state, imagining his friends have made off with it, wrapping the star up as a present. Of course he’s quite delusional, and when they turn up on Christmas Eve with a lot of lovely presents for him all he has to offer is a tree with no star.
When the clouds part, the star is back in place ‘bigger, brighter and more beautiful than ever.’ And it is indeed a thing of wonder, thanks to the hard work of Pat Hutchins, and not that star obsessed squirrel.