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Uncle Vova's Tree

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  262 ratings  ·  45 reviews
A holiday favorite from Patricia Polacco is now available again, to her fans' delight. Based on Polacco's childhood memories, this is the story of her Great-uncle Vladimir, known as Vova, and his colorful and inventive celebrations of the Russian Orthodox holiday of Epiphany. Polacco's art warmly depicts the vibrant costumes and decorations from her family's homeland, and ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published October 5th 1989 by Philomel
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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  262 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
Well, it’s Patricia Polacco, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise, but this was a pleasant surprise. I’m not usually enamored of most Christmas themed books, although there have been many other exceptions, I suppose.

However, here I appreciated the close inter-generational family ties described, and I really enjoyed the decorated tree: outside and for the animals. What a wonderful tradition!

This is one of Polacco’s earlier books, but I’ve read quite a few of her books now and I think it’s so funn
Dec 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Christmas Stories That Also Address Loss & Grief
The Christmas season was always a happy time at Uncle Vova's. With the sweet scent of evergreen in the air, the many different kinds of kutya - a traditional Russian porridge made of wheat or rice, with honey, poppyseeds, raisins and nuts - to eat, and beautiful paper stars to make, there was no end of fun and pleasure. But the real magic always came last: the night-time sleigh ride, and the decoration of Uncle Vova's tree with berries and popcorn, intended for the local animals. Planted the yea ...more
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the story of Polacco's Uncle Vova and her family's celebration of Epiphany. Every year, they would go for a sleigh ride while the women decorated for the dinner celebration. Then they would decorate a tree outside with berries, popcorn and bags of grain for the birds. They'd hang paper stars on the branches. Then they would hold a special feast and remember family members who were no longer with them. When Patricia's Uncle Vova dies, the celebrations are somber and each family member is ...more
Brittaney Reed
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Polacco, P. (1989) Uncle vova's tree. New York: Philomel Books

The story "Uncle Vova's Tree" by Patricia Polacco is a very heart warming holiday classic following a Russian family around Christmas time. A family celebrates their Russian traditions with their Uncle Vova and each year they decorate a tree outsdie for the animals. The children love this time of year. All the decorations, sleigh rides, and the feast the consume bring their family together. Sadly, Uncle Vova passes away the following
Sep 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014reviews
Uncle Vova's Tree is rich in detail and tradition. The author, Patricia Polacco, is drawing from her past and recalling some of her childhood Christmases. She writes, "As a child I celebrated Christmas as most American children did, but at Epiphany in January, my brother, my two cousins, my grandparents and I would go to the farm of my Great Uncle Vladimir and Aunt Svetlana to celebrate in the Russian tradition." The book recalls two family gatherings specifically. The first is Uncle Vova's last ...more
This is the third book published by Polacco and obviously the text is more sparse than her later titles. The sparser text made this one more appealing to me and as always her illustrations never disappoint me. The theme of the book is the celebration of Christmastide in the Russian tradition in January on the day of Epiphany, a day current American culture knows little about. I love the traditions depicted in this book, especially the placement of straw on the dining table in remembrance that Ch ...more
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Lovely story of Christmas memories. Polacco shares of visits to her uncle and aunt's home for the holidays. Uncle Vova shares the joy and spirit of the season with the children. The book ends as they spend their first year without him the next Christmas - even the animals remember him. ...more
Patricia Polacco shares with her readers the customs and traditions of how her family would celebrate a Russian Christmas with the foods, trimming of the tree, and other activities brought from the old country, and passed down and continued in America by her family and relatives.
This is a sweet story of Christmas memories at Vova's home, with lovely Russian traditions around the time of Ephiphany. ...more
Memoir of a special time in Polacco's childhood. ...more
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book, 2018
What a heartwarming story and revelation of some of Ms. Polacio’s childhood traditions and memories. Very sweet!
Lisa Brown
Uncle Vova is the center of the family Christmas celebration, making sure that they keep all the traditions of the old country, even though they now live in America. The children love their uncle, and feed off the joy that he radiates, especially while completing their favorite tradition of decorating Uncle Vova's tree out in the yard. The animals gather around afterward, and it is magical. But when Uncle Vova dies, they find it hard to find the same joy, that is, until they remember Uncle Vova' ...more
Krysta McFarland
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This contemporary realistic book that contains some modern fantasy ideas, that would be good for grades 2-5, is a cute book that connects to the readers on a personal level. This story can relate to anyone in any situation, but for me it really hit home when thinking of my grandfather. I lost my grandfather 3 years ago and around Christmas time we had many traditions that revolved around family. After he passed it was hard to carry on the traditions but we had a big family get together and it ma ...more
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a heartwarming story full of rich Russian Christmas tradition. It would be a really nice addition if you're doing something like Christmas-around-the-world or prior to decorating a tree outside for the animals, but don't think you need a reason to use this book. It's a wonderful addition to any Christmas library. I loved it! ...more
Dec 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks, holiday
Classic Polacco: Russian motif with a bittersweet but positive family story. A family celebrates christmas with memories and traditions of the uncle who has passed on.

Classic Polacco illustrations too- combining pencil drawing with colorful patterns in watercolor.
Oct 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: families and classrooms
Recommended to Claire by: Monica
Patricia Polacco is a wonderful storyteller. In this beautiful book she shares a Christmas Eve visit to her relatives creating a magical and generous spell as she depicts the tradition of decorating an outside tree for the animals.
Powers Family
Nov 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book about the joy of family holiday traditions, remembering those we love and carrying on the traditions we were taught. Patricia Polacco writes from her heart and I can't keep a dry eye. :) ...more
Inhabiting Books
Jan 07, 2012 added it
Shelves: 2012
A story about a family's Epiphany traditions and the continuation of them even after their beloved uncle, who was the "keeper" of the traditions, dies. I liked it up until the mystical end, which made it lose its power as a family story, to me.
Laura Z
A touching and beautifully told story of wonderful family traditions of Christmas and Epiphany handed down from grandparents to grandchildren year after year with love, and the miracles that can follow.
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-book
Another great story by Polacco! We'll be buying it to read at Christmas time; we always try to decorate a tree for the birds and critters so the story really resonated with my kids. We love her books! ...more
Oct 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
A memoir based on Patricia Polacco's Russian family Christmas celebrations, especially her Uncle's tradition of decorating a special tree for the woodland animals to enjoy. Beautiful story, and Polacco's gorgeous art. ...more
Rosa Cline
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids, christmas
This is a Russian Christmas story. Beautifully written and illustrated. A family doing traditional things and the old man knowing that will be his last Christmas, but teaching the children and making sure they 'remember'. A very touching beautiful Christmas storybook ...more
Margaret Boling
11/25/2016 ** Sometimes holidays can be difficult as we remember those who aren't with us this year. This tale reminds us to keep traditions alive because they can help us celebrate the lives of those who matter in our families. ...more
Luisa Knight
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
A story that explains the traditions of a Russian family at Christmas time. One of the traditions being decorating a tree outdoors for the animals to feast on. But one Christmas there is a miracle with the tree.

Ages: 4 - 8
Dec 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture, read-aloud
A peek into a Russian Orthodox Christmas celebration.
Sep 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is read every Christmas at our home. It touches hearts.
Mar 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Another wonderful book written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco about her childhood.
Shauna Croak-Falen
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful story of tradition and remembering those that helped form them.
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
this book is aowsome book I have ben read that book it abut crastmas but it kind of sad on the end when uncle vova died I love to read that book agine!!!!
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Another favorite discovered at the beginning of my career in education. Love the family memories and the miracle at the end. Making stars is also a fun craft activity.
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Patricia Polacco is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator with around seventy beloved and award-winning books to her credit, including The Keeping Quilt, Pink and Say, The Blessing Cup, Chicken Sunday, and Thank You, Mr. Falker. She resides in Michigan.

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