Uncle Vova’s TreeBy
Written and Illustrated By Patricia Polacco
What is a Russian Orthodox Christmas like?
Author and Illustrator, Patricia Polacco weaves a story from her own childhood memories including delightful Christmas customs practiced in various parts of Russia such as giving some grain to father frost, baking wonderful treats, making beautiful paper stars and hiding a silver coin in a bowl of mush and the one who finds it gets exceptional good luck the next year! This book tells of the last Christmas she and her cousins spent with her dear and funny Volodya, knows to all as Vova. Along with all the other holiday activities, the children treasured the time that Uncle Vova would hitch up the sleigh and take everyone for a ride through the snow. When they finish their snowy adventure, he helped them decorate a beautiful tree outdoors filled with special things for the animals so “they can have Christmas, too”. Uncle Vova tells them quietly that he’d like them to do that after he’s gone.
As you can imagine, the next Christmas is not the same without Uncle Vova, but everyone tries keep their spirits up to honor his memory. Then they remember the special tree for the animals and go out to carry on the tradition. But – wait – there’s something special at the tree that seems like a Christmas miracle. Something wonderful has happened that reminds them how Uncle Vova’s spirit is still with them.
This is a beautiful book for experiencing diverse Christmas customs and for sharing the universality of marvelous miracles that can happen when the holiday spirit is afoot. It’s also a great book for discussing loved ones who are no longer with us and how to keep their memory alive in our hearts and through meaningful traditions.
Christmastime is special at Uncle Vova?s house. Laughing and singing, he dances, takes the children on a sleigh ride, and gathers them to trim the tree that he and Svetlana planted when they first came to America. But when Vova is gone, to the surprise of everyone, the miracle of his tree?and the memories? only grow.