The Great Spruce

I started working for tree care companies when I was in high school, and by the time I was in my 20’s, worked as a climber, spending many engaging hours pruning in the upper branches.  This gave me a beautiful perspective, literally and figuratively, of the land and sea stretched out before me, and the happy immediate surroundings of branches and birds.  I grew to love trees. 


At the same time, I wondered about the Christmas tree tradition, especially the tradition of cutting down some of the most majestic, beloved trees for the holidays. That led me, years later, to write an article that appeared in the New York Times about alternatives to enjoying holiday trees.  That became the seed for this children's story.

Planting a tree with our neighbor at the local middle school.

To make the illustrations more true-to-life, nothing serves better than first hand experience. We invited Becky Gibbon, an illustrator who lives in Wales, United Kingdom, to come to New York where we visited a landscape design company and got to see them in action. The company, called Owen Brothers, allowed us to watch them dig and move a tree.

Planting a tree

Click to Enlarge

Where to get The Great Spruce, Online and in Stores

Meeting the illustrator

How this book came to be


Watch these videos of a tree being transplanted

Digging a tree

Drum lacing a tree

Moving a tree

Please check independent bookstores near you!