The Angel Tree by Daphne Benedis-Grab (ARC Review)

The Angel TreeInformation

Goodreads: The Angel Tree
Series: None
Source: Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Publication Date: September 30, 2014

Official Summary

A heartwarming Christmas mystery and friendship story!

Every Christmas in the small town of Pine River, a tree appears in the town square–the Angel Tree. Some people tie wishes to the tree, while others make those wishes come true. Nobody’s ever known where the tree comes from, but the mystery has always been part of the tradition’s charm.

This year, however, four kids who have been helped–Lucy, Joe, Max, and Cami–are determined to solve the mystery and find out the true identity of the town’s guardian angel, so that Pine River can finally thank the person who brought the Angel Tree to their town.

This is a heartwarming Christmas mystery, full of friendship, discovery, and loads of holiday cheer!


The Angel Tree is a heartwarming story about a diverse group of children who come together in order to discover their city’s greatest and mysterious benefactor: the person who puts the Angel Tree in the town square each year and coordinates the fulfillment of the town’s wishes.  The book is a little bit mystery, a little bit friendship story, and a little bit tale about the magic of Christmas—a perfect blend that will keep readers flipping through the pages.

Though readers will be wondering along with the characters who sets up the angel tree (and will be given just the right amount of clues to attempt to guess along), the true stars of the book are the children.  There are a bunch of them, but each is complex and comes with a history, and the author manages to balance her fairly large cast well in a relatively short amount of pages.

Other reviewers have argued The Angel Tree is a bit dark and depressing—and they are not necessarily wrong.  Each child has his or her own bundle of problems, ranging from a sick pet to a burnt down house to absent parents and uncaring guardians.  However, I do not think this is inappropriate for a middle grade book.  For many children, such circumstances are a reality, and they deserve to see their lives reflected in a book and to learn how characters deal with dark times.  Also, the rough edges of the story are gracefully balanced by the magic of the Christmas tree and holiday giving spirit.  The people in this fictional town truly know how to care for each other.

The Angel Tree is a wonderful holiday read that highlights the magic of giving and of giving thanks.  It is never cheesy, however, and also takes time to talk about family and friendship and the importance of learning to look for every person’s story.  Recommended for anyone who likes a feel-good Christmas story with a bit of an edge and anyone who likes their characters real and complex.  There is something for both adults and children in this book.

3 thoughts on “The Angel Tree by Daphne Benedis-Grab (ARC Review)

  1. ccplteenunderground says:

    This sounds completely charming and not at all too dark for MG readers! Just reading this review put me in the Christmas spirit!


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