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A tree’s Christmas tale

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This Christmas, gather the children around and enjoy a touching story about a pine cone and his acorn friend in the book “The Acorn” by Catherine Antunes.

This is the first story for Antunes, a graduate from Christendom College in Front Royal and nurse with a knack for storytelling. The tale took root last fall after hearing someone complain about the bittersweetness of cutting down a Christmas tree.

She told her Christmas tale of friendship and gratitude to her young cousins who were so taken by the story they started drawing pictures of her characters. The oldest was determined to help her publish it.

“It was really inspiring to see them take a story I created and make something of their own,” said Antunes. “When a 10-year-old offers you money to help publish your story, it’s time to be an adult and try and get it published yourself.”

She submitted her story to Orange Hat publishing in Wisconsin in July. To her delight, it was accepted and she began working with her sister Marie Antunes to bring the story to life through watercolor illustrations. One of her favorite illustrations is a two-page spread of a snow-covered wood and a sky bursting with stars. As Pine Cone is carried across a meadow, he marvels at the sky.  “Now he was overcome by the beauty of the clear night sky. The stars winked their hello. He knew them all. They had watched him grow from afar."

The book was released Nov. 12. 

“It turned out to be a great family effort,” said Antunes. “A lot of work, but a lot of love, too. It was quite encouraging.”

She was able to hold her book for the first time on Thanksgiving while visiting her sister Mary Grace in New York.

“It was edifying that I made something into a book. And it was humbling,” said Antunes, who immediately gave it to her 9-year-old niece to read. 

She wants children who read the book to realize that although some changes can look like the end, they can also be the beginning of something more wonderful than they could ever imagine. She hopes her story helps children to value friendship and learn to be grateful for gifts as small as an acorn.

The book is for ages 6 to 9 and is available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com.

Kassock is a freelancer from Fredericksburg.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019