Red & Lulu by Matt Tavares


Red & Lulu
Author & Illustrator: Matt Tavares
Published September 19th, 2017 by Candlewick Press

Summary: Separation and miles cannot keep a determined cardinal from his loved one in an ode to serendipity and belief that is destined to be a new Christmas classic.

Red and Lulu make their nest in a particularly beautiful evergreen tree. It shades them in the hot months and keeps them cozy in the cold months, and once a year the people who live nearby string lights on their tree and sing a special song: O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree. But one day, something unthinkable happens, and Red and Lulu are separated. It will take a miracle for them to find each another again. Luckily, it’s just the season for miracles. . . .

From Matt Tavares comes a heart-tugging story combining the cheer of Christmas, the magic of New York City, and the real meaning of the holiday season: how important it is to be surrounded by love.

Review: Wow, Matt Tavares! So much is going on in this book, and it is all beautiful. First, we meet the stars of our book: Red & Lulu, and you’ll love them right away. Their love flies off the page. And the scene when they are separated broke my heart! And since I don’t read summaries, I had no idea what was going to happen, and it was so sad, but Red would not give up.

In addition to the story of love and separation, it is also a story of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. Tavares includes back matter about the tree, its history, and traditions. Through its inclusion and the repetition of “O, Christmas Tree,” the mood is set and you are transported to NYC at Christmas time.

Finally, I cannot forget to mention the AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL illustrations. They took my breath away. They are edge to edge, inclusive, and so detailed.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Red & Lulu is going to be an instantaneous Christmas classic! And I loved the discussion of Rockefeller Center which allows for a historical and American tradition conversation around the book.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What is so special about the very final page of the book?
  • How can you tell the difference between Red & Lulu? Why did the author choose to illustrate them that way?
  • How did the author’s repetition of “O, Christmas Tree” affect the mood of the book? And what did the lyrics indicate in the story?
  • Before you knew where Lulu ended up, what clues did Matt Tavares include to foreshadow where Lulu was?
  • Which spread of illustrations is your favorite? Why?
  • What did you learn about Rockefeller Center and its Christmas Tree from the book? What would you like to learn more about?

Flagged Passages: 

Book Trailer: 


Read This If You Love: CHRISTMAS!, Birds by Kevin Henkes, Bluebird by Bob Staake, A Christmas Wish for Corduroy by B.G. Hennessy, Other titles on my student Maria’s Top Christmas Books List

Recommended For: 


**Thank you to Candlewick Press for providing a copy for review!**


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