Pine and the Winter Sparrow
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Pine and the Winter Sparrow

  • retold by: Alexis York Lumbard

  • illustrated by: Beatriz Vidal

  • foreword by: Robert Lewis

  • Juvenile non-fiction






Date Available:

Available now


5 and up

Grade Level:



Lexile Measure: 530L


8″ x 10″

Page Count:


View Sample Pages

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  • Pages 12-13

  • Pages 24-25

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Have you ever wondered why pine trees stay green all winter long and don’t lose their leaves like other trees? According to an ancient legend attributed to the Cherokee Indians, it was a simple act of kindness towards an injured little bird that earned pine trees this very honor. Retold by award-winning author Alexis York Lumbard, this story invites readers to experience a world where trees and birds speak and interact with each other, and which shows us that no act of kindness and sharing goes unrewarded. Featuring beautiful paintings by multiple award-winning illustrator Beatriz Vidal, you will never look at pine trees in the same way again!

Alexis York Lumbard is the author of the award-winning book The Conference of the Birds (illustrated by Demi). Her most recent titles, Angels (illustrated by Flavia Weedn) and Everyone Prays (illustrated by Alireza Sadeghian), have been lauded by the critics since their release. A busy mother of three, she was motivated to write by her children, and the desire to create high quality stories to inspire young readers. She lives with her husband and three daughters in Natick, MA.

Beatriz Vidal is an award-winning Argentinean painter, illustrator, and teacher. Her work has appeared in well-known magazines such as The New York TimesWoman’s Day, and The New Yorker. Vidal won the prestigious Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award for her title A Library for Juana (written by Pat Mora), while her books Rainbow Crow (written by Nancy Van Laan) and Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain (written by Verna Aardema) were Reading Rainbow selections. Her artwork has featured in numerous exhibitions around the world, including The International Exhibition of Illustration for Children in Sarmede, Italy, and The Society of Illustrators in New York. Beatriz Vidal divides her time between Cordoba in Argentina and New York City.


  • Gold Medal in the “Illustration – Graphic” category of the 2015 Midwest Book Awards


  • “Lumbard (Everyone Prays) retells a Cherokee tale about why trees lose their leaves in winter  . . . The pacing of Lumbard’s telling builds suspense (‘Oak huffed and puffed. Then he huffed and puffed some more. Finally he grumbled, “Go away, little fellow” ’). The spreads by Vidal (A Library for Juana), with their fine detail and muted colors, vividly depict trees that vary vastly in color, shape, and leaf. The message about kindness is obvious, and the one about nature’s beauty and changes is subtle and visually persuasive. A foreword from Native American storyteller Robert Lewis connects Lumbard’s story, which has several variants among native peoples, to indigenous ideas about the sacredness of nature. Ages 4–up.”

    – Publishers Weekly

  • “The evergreen-ness of the pine tree is explained in a tale that’s possibly Cherokee but definitely Native American. Sparrow has an injured wing but nevertheless thanks the Creator each day with his song. He cannot fly south with his family, though, as winter approaches. He seeks shelter first with Oak, then Maple, Elm and Aspen, but each tree rejects him, quite rudely. Pine, however, welcomes Sparrow, with an apology for his sticky branches and needlelike foliage, and tucks the little bird into a high, sheltered branch. When his family returns in the spring, Sparrow’s wing has healed. The Creator calls a council, admonishing the trees that had so much but would not share, proclaiming that only Pine will be green all year: ‘Pine, your gift to Sparrow was a gift to Me.’ The language is simple, with an unornamented oral quality. Vidal has made effective patterns of birds and leaves that fill the pages as Sparrow goes from tree to tree looking for a way to survive the winter. The leaves of each tree are bright and recognizable in their autumn dress. A foreword by storyteller Robert Lewis, of Cherokee, Navajo and Apache lineage, and an author’s note add background. A pleasing pourquoi tale.”

    – Kirkus Reviews

  • “Pine and the Winter Sparrow is old native folklore retold by Alexis York Lumbard (with a foreword by Robert Lewis), and illustrated by Beatriz Vidal. In this delightful tale of a sparrow that must overwinter due to a hurt wing, children are taught the value of kindness and friendship, as well as a legend about the trees that has been passed down from the old storytellers. . . . In this simple tale, ‘the Creator’ is mentioned twice; however, it is not overtly religious and focuses mainly on the universal lessons of love and kindness. The writing and story are perfectly in sync with tone and thought, and the full-color illustrations are at once detailed and simple, pleasing to look at, and attention grabbing. When Pine says to Sparrow, ‘If you don’t mind my sticky branches and my needle-sharp leaves, then all that I am and all that I have is yours,’ the theme of gentleness and humility are fully revealed. With the beautiful pictures, easy reading style, and the fun of folklore, children ages four to seven, and their parents, will enjoy reading this sturdy hardcover book time and time again.”

    – ForeWord Reviews

  • “A foreword by Native American storyteller Robert Lewis and a lengthy author’s note regarding her source lend authenticity to this charming retelling of the Native American fable ‘Why the Trees Lose Their Leaves.’ . . . Vidal’s watercolor and pencil spreads progress from the bright colors of autumn to the stark purple-hued skies of winter and finally, after Creator’s decree, to a spread of evergreens scattered among the other trees, their branches bare against the snow-filled landscape. A fine discussion-starter about the importance of kindness.”

    – School Library Journal

  • “Pine and the Winter Sparrow is the picturebook retelling of an ancient legend attributed to the Cherokee Indians, about how pine trees stay green throughout the winter because of the kindness they once showed towards an injured little sparrow. Award-winning author/illustrator team Alexis York Lumbard and Beatriz Vidal bring this powerful fable about the virtue of charity to life. Pine and the Winter Sparrow will reach ages 4 and up  . . . and parents will find this story lends to a lovely read-aloud experience and early discussion of giving. The gentle drawings are lovely embellishments to the story. Highly recommended, especially for public and school library children’s picturebook collections.”

    – Children’s Bookwatch

  • “While there are many legends explaining why pine trees retain their greenery during the winter months, this one, attributed to the Cherokees, is satisfying since it also teaches compassion. Grounded with an injured wing, Sparrow cannot migrate as the air turns colder, and his family starts their long journey to warmer climes. Looking for compassion, he seeks shelter from several different trees. Despite their abundant leaves, they all turn him down. Finally, when Sparrow is almost too cold and exhausted to continue, Pine offers a place to stay. The Creator rewards the tree for its generosity to the bird, and proclaims that the pine will remain evergreen. Filled with soft, lovely illustrations, the book strongly exemplifies kindness to others in need, making it an especially appealing read aloud.”

    – Literacy Daily

    , (from the International Literacy Association,

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  • Parents can download a 333KB file of a coloring page from this book. The full letter-size page features a large uncolored image of the Sparrow, ready for coloring. Click here for this file in jpg format in a new tab or window, which you can print out for your child’s enjoyment, or right-click on the link for other options.

Sample Page Spreads from This Book

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The Book Trailer Video for Pine and the Winter Sparrow

Watch the video below to get an idea of the story, and the look of the book.