The Great Spruce

How this book came to be

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

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

Meeting the illustrator

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.

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Watch these videos of a tree being transplanted

Digging a tree

Drum lacing a tree

Moving a tree

Where to Buy or Borrow 

The Great Spruce in Stores, Libraries and Online 

 

Please check independent bookstores near you!

Illustrator, Author and Digging Men

John and Becky watch the team and discuss the process.