THE BLUE SPRUCE by Mario Cuomo
So who knew that former New York state governor, he of the ringing oratory and soaring rhetoric, would be just as effective slipping into the gentler cadences of a fond grandfather?
In this charming children’s story, dedicated to the Cuomos’ nine grandchildren and their great-grandparents, former Governor Cuomo spins an inspirational tale about a blue spruce tree that stood in the yard of his childhood home. The tree symbolized not only his immigrant father’s dream of success, by having a single family home with its own piece of land, but also resilience and faith in the dream itself.
When the tree is violently uprooted during a fierce storm, young Mario is devastated, and convinced that the beloved tree that had sheltered him during his childhood is doomed. His father’s insistence that they prop up the tree, and push its roots back into the ground, strike him as foolish.
But the boy helps his father, and comes to see that tenacity and faith could confound what at first appear to be disaster. As Cuomo writes,” Right then I understood what Papa meant. I understood about his dream. I understood about never giving up. I understood about the Blue Spruce.”
This tale would make for many memorable teachable moments, I’m sure, in a kindergarten or first grade classroom, especially persuasive for children who may be struggling. My only gripe is that I wish the illustrations had been more engaging for young children—this may be better as a read-aloud, where children listen to the story more than seek out the pictures.#
The Blue Spruce by Mario Cuomo. Illustrated by G. van Frankenhuyzen (Sleeping Bear Press).