The Christmas Tree Ship is a 32-page picture book that tells the story of the Rouse Simmons’ (a Great Lakes schooner) final voyage. The captain of this ship was Captain Schuenemann (also called Captain Santa), and every year he would load his boat up with Christmas trees and sail from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Chicago to sell them. On his final voyage in 1912, a storm came up and his boat sank. The following year his wife and her daughters brought trees to Chicago, carrying on the tradition.
This story is told by a grandfather to his grandchildren (the author’s grandfather told this story to her and her cousins), and the illustrations are just beautiful. Unfortunately, the actual storyline is a little bit disjointed. It jumps from the story of the ship sinking, to the grandfather finding a tag from one of the trees, and then to Captain Santa’s wife delivering trees the following year in her husband’s honor. However, it is an interesting bit of American history and worth reading, especially if you’re studying that area of the United States, and for this reason I would recommend The Christmas Tree Ship.