A new Julia Donaldson picture book, The Christmas Pine, will be published by Scholastic imprint Alison Green Books in autumn 2021, illustrated by Norwegian artist Victoria Sandøy.
The picture book, written in Donaldson's "perfect, heartfelt" rhyme, is billed as a "story of growth and journeys, of treasured memories—and of the circle of life". The book will follow a Christmas tree from its early days growing in a wood, to the moment when the fully grown tree stands proudly in the city square, covered with lights and surrounded by carol singers.
The poem was originally commissioned by The Poetry Society to decorate this year’s Trafalgar Square Christmas tree. The tree is an annual gift from Norway in thanks for the support given by the British during Second World War. Fittingly, The Christmas Pine will be illustrated by Norwegian artist Sandøy, whose work is inspired by her Scandinavian roots.
Publisher Alison Green secured world rights to the text from Caroline Sheldon at Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency. Rights to the illustration were acquired directly from Sandøy. Publication will be marked with a "magical marketing and PR campaign which will touch families nationwide".
Green said: "Julia is such a genius! The Christmas Pine is quite simply the perfect Christmas poem: deceptively simple, incredibly moving and brimming with festivity and hope. It’s surely a classic for all time. We’re thrilled that Norwegian artist Victoria Sandøy has agreed to illustrate it. The book will be a wonderful British-Norwegian collaboration, which mirrors Norway’s generosity in giving us a Christmas tree every year."
Donaldson commented: "I wrote The Christmas Pine as a poem but because it tells a story, in the tree’s own voice, I quickly realised that it could make a very special picture book. I love Victoria’s work and am thrilled to be working with a Norwegian illustrator—it seems so appropriate, given that the annual Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square celebrates the friendship between our two countries. I’ve always loved carol-singing and have felt sad that there’s less of that this year, so it was good to be able to include that in the story poem."