Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree

Fridays were ice cream days. And after lunch every Friday, one class of six year olds came to the library. Jack always, always, had chocolate smeared across his face. Always. He was adorable. Bright, funny, kind, and everything wonderful about the world wrapped up into a six year old package. When I saw him around the school on a day other than Friday, I pretended to have no idea who he was. Because, you know, the chocolate was missing from his face.

“Oh, hello, brand new student! My name is Ms. Higgins, so nice to meet you!”

“Hmmm, I don’t quite remember your name — is it Hugo? Marty? Nelson?”

His giggle was infectious, and his playfulness a joy.

Six year old Nathan only liked his bananas opened from the wrong end. Little monkey.

Six year old Jessica told me she was going to be a hamster when she grew up.

Six year old Mark tried his very best in the spelling bee, and I had to be the one to ring the bell when he got his word wrong.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few days remembering six year olds I’ve known and taught. It’s been a number of years, but the unbridled life in a room full of six year olds is hard to forget.

(This is a favorite book from my days of sharing stories directly with kids, this time of year even. I wrote about it over on Design Mom, and have been cheered by the comments and the warmth around this little gem!)



  • Posted December 19, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    I’m so happy to know about this book, Carter–and I appreciate your sharing your memories of special 6-year-olds (what 6-year-old isn’t special?). I bet YOU are a special memory for many a child. Today I’m grateful for the wonderful teachers, librarians and mentors who touched my daughters’ lives. Bless you all.

  • Posted December 19, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Bonnie. Love to you!

  • Posted December 19, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I, too, have been thinking of six-year-old joys these past few days, and this is a lovely post.

    And re: Mr. Willoughby and his bountiful tree, I’m so delighted when I find kindred spirits around a book I love. I was planning to (finally) write a long-overdue post for our blog on this, my very favorite holiday picture book. It’s one I remembered vividly from childhood, though I could only remember the story (the tree becoming many ever-smaller trees for ever-smaller families) and not the name. Then, the first Christmas after my girl was born, I spotted it in a bookstore window, reissued just in time to pass on to her!

    Can’t wait to read the other post you wrote about this one…

  • Posted December 19, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Oh good! Kindreds indeed.

  • Posted December 19, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    It’s so hard to think about six-year-olds without thinking of the tragedy in Connecticut, but that is what we are faced with. Anyway, the image of the chocolate smeared across the face is adorable! This was a nice post.

  • Posted December 19, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Laura!

  • Posted December 19, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    A wonderful post evoking memories of volunteering at my son’s elementary school. (He’s now a junior.) Thank you for being a teacher and a mentor to those kids.

  • Posted December 19, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I love that. My last year teaching was 2006, and that year’s 5th graders are graduating from high school this year. So adorable seeing some of their grown up antics on Facebook. They used to be so little!

  • Posted December 19, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    It’s so wonderful that you got to know these children in their special ways

  • Posted December 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    A little bit of us all is always six years old. Thanks for the reminder of a great book, Carter.

  • Posted December 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    My last year as a K-12 school librarian was also 2006 (after that I was just working with high schoolers). Like you I have been think of theses six year olds I knew, who are now all grown up. I loved this post and the specific things you remembered about these kids! Thanks for sharing this great Christmas book with us too.

  • tinamcho
    Posted December 19, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Looks like another charming book! Aren’t 6 yr olds great? Well, mine turned into a 7 yr old, but he’s still awesome and cute :)

  • Posted December 20, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on sweeetwit and commented:
    im going to need this artist…
    my favorite all time favorite is the stories of how frog and toad are friends.
    oh what am i saying, i love so many children story books I cant decide on one:)

  • Posted December 21, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    This post is loaded….w/PB ideas. Love this book!

  • Posted January 20, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    this is my favorite holiday book!

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