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Children's Nonfiction Historical

The Sailor and the Christmas Trees

A True Story

edited by Deana Driver

illustrated by Catherine Folnovic

DriverWorks Ink
Initial publish date
Oct 2012
Recommended Age
8 to 18
Recommended Grade
3 to 12
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2012
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


John Hanlon served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. In late November 1944, the frigate he was stationed on was docked in St. John's, Newfoundland. John realized that they would likely be at sea on Christmas Day, so he decided that he and some other sailors should go up a nearby hill and cut down a few evergreen trees, then hide them in the ship until Christmas. So that's what they did.
On Christmas morning, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on their way back to Canada from England, John and his friends pulled out those trees and surprised their fellow shipmates with a hearty ‘Merry Christmas’ wish!
They also shared this unexpected Christmas gift with some small English children on another ship, who were being transported to safety in Canada. Decades later, John met one of the women who was a child on that ship and they savoured the memory of that special Christmas Day.

About the authors


  • Winner, Holiday Book Festival, Children's

Contributor Notes

Deana Driver (pronounced dee-na) was born in Athabasca, Alberta and has been writing for most of her life. She wrote poems and short stories in elementary school, then true stories and fiction for her high school newspaper. After graduating in journalism from SAIT in Calgary, she moved to Regina, Saskatchewan. Deana wrote for the Regina Leader-Post newspaper before starting her own freelance writing business in 1983. She has had more than 2,000 articles published in different Canadian newspapers and magazines, has written five books and has published or co-published 21 books (written by herself or other Prairie authors) through her publishing company DriverWorks Ink. The Sailor and the Christmas Trees is Deana’s first children’s book.

Excerpt: The Sailor and the Christmas Trees: A True Story (edited by Deana Driver; illustrated by Catherine Folnovic)

“Grandpa, can you please tell us a story?”
Hmmm… What kind of story would you like?
“A happy story. Tell us the one about you and the Christmas trees … during the war.”
Ah, yes … the war … and the Christmas trees.
Well … it wasn’t the happiest of times, but we tried to make the best of it.
So this story happened in 1944, during the Second World War, when I was a sailor on the HMCS Royalmount. HMCS stands for Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship in the Royal Canadian Navy. Did you know that? Hmmm. Well, you do now.
Our ship, the Royalmount, was a river class frigate. It was a war ship that sailed with a bunch of other ships in a group called a convoy. Our job was to keep the other ships safe as we crossed the ocean to England and back to Canada again, especially watching out for the enemy’s submarines.
Anyway, my job on the ship was to be a wireless operator. That meant that I had to communicate with the other ships in our convoy by telegraph, using Morse code. No cellphones for us in those days. No siree.


Editorial Reviews

“Driver not only relates an interesting story, but her book is also an educational tool. She uses notations in the text, leading to a glossary which explains the terms used. Children of an age to appreciate this book may not realize there were other ways to communicate before cellphones. After relating John Hanlon’s story, Driver tells how the book came to be written. Six days after he told his story to Driver, Hanlon passed away. Fortunately for us, his story is now recorded for posterity.”

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