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Children's Fiction Christmas & Advent

Bella's Tree /hc

by (author) Janet Russell

illustrated by Jirina Marton

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Sep 2009
Christmas & Advent, Multigenerational, General
Recommended Age
0 to 7
Recommended Grade
p to 2
Recommended Reading age
4 to 7
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2009
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.


Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Illustration

Bella's grandmother, Nan, has become "crooked." All those berries that she used to love picking are lying under the snow. Even worse, she's too old to go out and find the perfect Christmas tree.

But spunky Bella and Bruno, the dog, are certain that they can find a tree and smooth out Nan's misery. It takes them a few trees, some songs and the help of some birds, but the end result is perfect, leaving grandmother, girl and dog with "their eyes blinking from the beauty, the beautier, the beautiest."

About the authors

Janet Russell was inspired to write Bella's Tree by her husband's mother, who really did love to pick berries, was never crooked, often enchanting and always exceedingly practical; by her daughter, Antonia; and by the late Bruno, the biggest dog that ever lived. Janet is a seabird biologist as well as the publisher and audio producer of Rattling Books. She lives in Tors Cove, Newfoundland.

Janet Russell's profile page

Jirina Marton has exhibited her paintings throughout Europe, Canada, and Japan. She has illustrated many children's books, including Little Books of Northern Tales: The Bear Says North by Bob Barton, Arctic Adventures: Tales from the Lives of Inuit Artists by Raquel Riveria, Marja's Skis by Jean E. Pendziwol, which was a Governor-General's Award finalist for illustration, and Bella's Tree by Janet Russell, which won the 2009 Governor General's Award for illustration. Jirina lives in Colborne, Ontario.

Jirina Marton's profile page


  • Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids & Teens
  • Short-listed, Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards
  • Commended, Resource Links' Year's Best
  • Winner, Governor General's Literary Award: Illustration

Editorial Reviews

...a haunting mix of folk-tale, song, and dialect.

Fifty-Five Plus Magazine

...the full-page, almost-impressionistic oil pastel illustrations are evocative, whether depicting a warm cabin interior or the snowy woods.

School Library Journal

...heart-stoppingly, liltingly lovely...

Globe and Mail

A wondrous tale...combin[ing] traditional songs and the Newfoundland dilalect shared between the grandmother and grandchild.

Resource Links

Janet Russell fabricates a story that has the feel of an old folk tale. The simple plot, the careful repetition of events, intermixed with song, make Bella's Tree inviting for storytellers...Russell reminds her audience of the powerful role elders can play in the lives of young people, and Marton's simple and fequently beautiful images reinforce the charm of this grandmother-granddaughter relationship

CM Magazine

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