Red and Lulu
by Matt Tavares, illus. by Matt Tavares
“In the front yard of a little house,
on the branches of a mighty evergreen,
there lived a pair of happy cardinals.”
So begins Red and Lulu, a beautiful picture book written by Matt Tavares that will become a Christmas classic. Red and Lulu are the pair of happy cardinals, and they make their home in this giant tree out in the suburbs. The tree provides is the perfect home year round, but especially during winter, when “the family would decorate the tree with lights, and sometimes people would gather near and sing: O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, Thy leaves are so unchanging…” When Red leaves to find breakfast one morning, and Lulu stays in the tree, a big truck with a crane and men with chainsaws come and cut down the tree and hoist it to be taken away. But taken away where? When Red returns to see the tree cut down, he is frantic, and follows the truck and his tree with Lulu tucked inside. He soon loses sight of the tree, and the next few pages are wordless spreads, showing Red following the tree from above, as it makes its way from the suburbs to the big city. “Before long, Red lost sight of the tree. Still, he kept flying, trying to catch up. Soon he found himself in a strange place, unlike any place he had ever seen.”What follows next is the little cardinal flying around New York City, landing on the lions outside of the New York Public Library, and joining some pigeons in eating crumbs next to a food cart on the street. Red searches for day, without any sign of the tree or his beloved Lulu. But then, he hears the song they both loved: “O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, Thy leaves are so unchanging…” and he follows the sound, and when he turns the corner, where a giant evergreen, his and Lulu’s giant evergreen, is lit up in Rockefeller Plaza. He flies to their favorite branch, and lo and behold, there’s Lulu! The cardinals are reunited, and the Christmas Spirit lives on. This beautiful picture book by Matt Tavares is filled with lovely watercolor and gouache illustrations that you and your family will love to pore over.