Press Release 11/25/19

(Kent, Connecticut) – Did you ever wonder when people started putting Christmas trees in their homes? Did you ever think about where all those holiday trees came from and who first thought of selling them? This heart-warming little story introduces us to Mark Carr, an enterprising New York State farmer who started the first Christmas tree market in America. The year was 1851 and Mark Carr and his young sons chopped down 36 shapely firs around their modest farm and sold them at the Washington Market, an open-air bazaar in New York City that began in 1812. The market was razed in 1967 to make way for The World Trade Center. The Jolly Woodman is a true story of risk and triumph and the belief that children everywhere should have a Christmas tree, even if they lived in a big city.

Children of all ages are invited to come hear, for the first time, a reading and reception to celebrate this newly published book The Jolly Woodman: The True Story of the First Christmas Tree Market in America written by Joanna Kelly and illustrated by Katie Atkinson. The book will be read aloud by Kent resident, E. Barrie Kavashe. This holiday event will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, December 14, in the Reading Room at Kent Memorial Library in Kent.

Joanna Kelly’s love of history and nature drew her to the true story of a New York State woodman named Mark Carr. After considerable research she discovered a late 1800s newspaper article that referred to him as “The Jolly Woodman,” an enterprising individual who started the first Christmas tree market in America. Joanna shares his risks and triumphs with warmth and charm in her first children’s book. Before joining the staff of Kent Memorial Library in Kent, CT, from which she is now retired, Joanna worked as a columnist, historical feature writer, and reporter at Citizen News, a Fairfield County, CT newspaper. She is the author of Hooligan’s Alley, a Civil War novel; Tomato Pie: The Frank Pepe Story; The Man Who Loved Kennedy: The Ned Coll Story; Written in Stone; Joanna Kelly lives in the northwest hills of Connecticut surrounded by tall trees and cottages gardens.

Katie Atkinson lives with her husband and two boys in Norfolk, CT. After spending her junior year in France, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Connecticut and then moved to New York. There she spent several years working in advertising and freelance illustration. Katie has always loved art in children’s books. When her boys were small, she was inspired by their love of winter and created a new body of work. These scenes were published as holiday greeting cards. Her work is represented by the Illustration Source and has been published internationally for a wide variety of uses. Her projects and clients include Christmas Seals for the American Lung Association, holiday gift cards for Land’s End, and numerous covers for Bookmarks magazine. In addition, Atkinson works with clients doing therapeutic artwork for recovery and rehabilitation.

Amazon reviews: 5 out of 5 stars

“What a wonderful story, a real treasure!!”

“I love books that tell stories about real people. The Jolly Woodman is a true story about a humble family man and poor farmer whose forested property was rich in Christmas trees. His struggle to bring his trees to New York City is heartwarming. Tuck this little  book under your own Christmas tree and your children will be rewarded and warmed by the narrative and the illustrations.”

“Christmas History. A well-written, beautifully illustrated, entertaining story that adds to our understanding of Christmas customs in these United States. A perfect stocking stuffe  for a child this holiday season.”

The book talk is free and open to the public. The Jolly Woodman and Joanna Kelly’s other book Tomato Pie: The Frank Pepe Story will be available for signing and purchasing. Join us for refreshments after the reading. Please call the Library to register at 860.927.3761 or the Library’s calendar of events on the website.