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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Feast of Books for Thanksgiving

Image courtesy of NYPL's Digital Gallery

I don't know about you, but I am really looking forward to a big Thanksgiving feast next week.  Yum. :)  In preparation for the holiday, my seven-year-old Ben and I have been feasting our eyes on Thanksgiving-themed books.  I wrote about some of our favorites in a post last November, and wanted to share some others with you this year:

The Thanksgiving Story,
written by Alice Dalgliesh
and illustrated by Helen Sewell, 1954

In this book, Dalgliesh tells the story of one Pilgrim family and their journey from England to Plymouth Rock, concluding with the feast of celebration a year later for the colonists and the natives who'd helped the newcomers survive hunger, cold, and sickness.

I found this to be a well-written story of historical fiction -- easy to understand, yet interesting and informative.


Over the River and Through the Wood,
lyrics written by Lydia Maria Child
and illustrated by Brinton Turkle, 1975

Back in the 1840's, Child wrote a poem about traveling to her grandparents' on Thanksgiving Day; the poem was later turned into the now-famous song.  I still remember singing "Over the River and Through the Woods" with my sister every year when we were growing up, as we rode in our car on the way to our own grandparents' home for the holiday. (And we really did go over a river and through some woods to get there.) This book includes the lyrics to the song, the sheet music, and several illustrations -- black and white ones facing the lyrics and also several two-page color spreads.

While all the other books mentioned in this post are ones that I found at the library, this one sits on our bookshelf here at home.  I bought it from Scholastic Books back when I was in second grade or so.  I remember wanting it so that I could always have a copy of all the lyrics to the song.  I know that I brought it along in the car more than once, so that my sister and I could regale our parents with every single verse over and over again.  I'm sure they appreciated that.  

Note: I had the book sitting out for this post, and Ben picked it up to flip through.  He was thrilled to see all the verses printed there, and immediately began singing them. My parents would probably call that karma.... ;)


A Turkey for Thanksgiving,
written by Eve Bunting
and illustrated by Diane de Groat, 1991

Mrs. Moose is getting everything ready for a Thanksgiving Day feast with friends, but she's missing one thing -- a turkey.  She asks her husband to go find one for her, which he does.  Turkey, understandably, wants nothing to do with the holiday dinner.  When Mr. Moose brings him home anyway, Turkey is relieved to discover that Mrs. Moose wants him at her table, not on it.

This is a tender, humorous book.  Ben and I especially liked the pleasant surprise at the end!


Gracias the Thanksgiving Turkey,
written by Joy Cowley
and illustrated by Joe Cepeda, 1996

Miguel's father, a long-distance truck driver, sends his son a live turkey, asking him to fatten her up for Thanksgiving. Miguel names the bird Gracias.  He takes good care of the turkey, even taking her for walks around the streets of New York on a leash, and quickly becomes attached to the large bird.  How will Miguel keep his new amiga from becoming Thanksgiving dinner?  (This book also contains a short glossary of Spanish words used throughout the tale.)

Ben and I loved the colorful, expressive pictures in this book. We also enjoyed how the amusing story unfolds and how it is finally resolved at the end.  


Turkey Pox,
written by Laurie Halse Anderson
and illustrated by Dorothy Donohue, 1996

Charity and her family rush around, getting everything ready for Thanksgiving dinner at Nana's.  Charity itches and itches (and scratches and scratches), but doesn't think anything of it until the family's in the car, on their way, and suddenly her parents realize that she is covered with chicken pox.  (Or is it turkey pox?)  Sadly, the family returns home, thinking they will have to celebrate Thanksgiving without Nana or her wonderful roast turkey.  Lucky for them, Nana refuses to have her holiday spoiled by a few spots....

This story had Ben and me giggling on almost every page! From the comical illustrations to Aunt Imogene's wacky dialogue to Nana's clever prank at the end of the book, this is a fun book to read aloud and start the holidays off with a smile.


This is the Turkey,
written by Abby Levine
and illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye, 2000

In this cumulative rhyming book, Max and his family get ready for their Thanksgiving feast.  Everything is turning out perfectly -- until a silly mishap puts the roast turkey out of commission.  Will Thanksgiving be ruined?  Of course not. Family, friends, and thankfulness save the day.

Both Ben and I were entertained by this story.  I especially liked how Levine tells it in "The House That Jack Built" style, but with a twist.  I also liked the gentle message that things don't have to go perfectly to have a special day.


A Plump and Perky Turkey,
written by Teresa Bateman
and illustrated by Jeff Shelly, 2001

When the people of Squawk Valley find themselves without a turkey for Thanksgiving, they come up with a plan to lure one to town.  They advertise for a turkey model to come help them out with an arts and crafts show... and Pete the turkey takes the bait.  Pete poses while the townspeople paint pictures of him and sculpt likenesses of him out of clay, but then manages to disappear before he is captured, leaving the town with only shredded wheat for Thanksgiving dinner.

This rhyming story is a bit of a tongue twister at times to read out loud, but its goofy plot and illustrations make it worth trying!


Thank You, Thanksgiving,
written and illustrated by David Milgrim, 2003

In this simple yet inspiring book, a young girl is thankful for the world around her.

I think reading this story with a loved one would be a great way to introduce the concepts of Thanksgiving to toddlers and preschoolers.  Though Ben is quite a bit older than that now, he (and I) still appreciated the main character's attitude of gratitude as well as Milgrim's charming illustrations.


The Memory Cupboard:
A Thanksgiving Story,
written by Charlotte Herman
and illustrated by Ben F. Stahl, 2003

When Katie and her parents visit Grandma for Thanksgiving, Katie accidentally breaks the special gravy boat her mother and uncle gave Grandma when they were young.  Katie feels awful, but then Grandma -- who knows what's really important -- shows Katie her memory cupboard.  Inside, the cupboard is filled with items that have broken over the years, yet remain cherished memories.

With rich illustrations that convey a loving family, this is a heartwarming story.  It emphasizes the truth that "things are just things.  People are more important...."  


Pilgrim Cat,
written by Carol Antoinette Peacock
and illustrated by Doris Ettlinger, 2004

Faith, a young girl sailing from England to the New World aboard the Mayflower, spots a stowaway cat.  Naming him Pounce, she quickly befriends the cat.  Through storms, illness, and a long, hard winter in a new land, Pounce stays by Faith's side.  When he disappears the next summer, Faith is devastated.  Where can Pounce be?  Don't worry -- Pounce eventually turns up again, and Faith has much to be thankful for at harvest time.

Though the story is fictional, Peacock infuses it with historical facts, making the Colonial period come alive in readers' minds.


The Firefighters' Thanksgiving,
written by Maribeth Boelts
and illustrated by Terry Widener, 2004

It's Thanksgiving Day and the firefighters at Station 1 are getting ready to celebrate.  The alarm sounds several times throughout the day, however, and each time they must leave their cooking unfinished.  Then one of the firefighters gets hurt and is rushed to the hospital.  It turns out that he'll be okay -- but will the firefighters ever get to enjoy the holiday?

Before we read this book together, Ben didn't realize that firefighters (and many others) must work on holidays.  The story sparked a conversation about all the people in our community who deserve our support and heartfelt thanks.


An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving,
written by Louisa May Alcott
and illustrated by James Bernardin, 2005

The Bassett family is "poor in money, but rich in land and love".  They are in the middle of preparing Thanksgiving dinner when they receive news that Mrs. Bassett's mother is very ill.  When Mr. and Mrs. Bassett leave to take care of her, young Tilly decides to surprise her parents by completing the meal before they get back.  The other children help, but no one knows exactly how to make the various dishes.  Dinner doesn't turn out quite as expected, but there remains much to be thankful for.  The book includes a recipe for Apple Slump.

This is a shortened version of Alcott's holiday tale, originally published in 1881.  I have not read the original, so I don't know how the two compare, but I felt that this text was just right for a picture book setting.  Filled with warmth and gentle humor, this book makes a great addition to any family's Thanksgiving reading list.


Over the River:
A Turkey's Tale,
based on the lyrics written by Lydia Maria Child
 and illustrated by Derek Anderson, 2005

Like the book Over the River and Through the Wood shown at the top of this post, this book is based on the poem/song lyrics written by Child in the 1840's.  In Anderson's version, however, a turkey family is traveling to Grandmother's house (along with a horse who literally carries a sleigh), while fleeing from a young hunter and his dog.  Song lyrics and music are included on the book's endpapers.

The playful pictures in this book kept Ben and me chuckling throughout.


Beauty and the Beaks:
A Turkey's Cautionary Tale,
written by Mary Jane Auch
and illustrated by Mary Jane and Herm Auch, 2007

Beauty (owner of the beauty shop The Chic Hen) and her chicken friends gossip about Lance, the conceited turkey who is the only one invited to the farmhouse feast.  When Beauty later discovers that Lance is going to be the main course, however, she hatches a zany plan to save him.

Bad puns and silliness abound in this eggcellent story.  In addition, the illustrations (photographs of elaborate chicken mannequins) are fascinating -- Ben and I loved all the tiny details.


We Gather Together:
Celebrating the Harvest Season,
written by Wendy Pfeffer
and illustrated by Linda Bleck, 2006

This nonfiction picture book explains the fall equinox and various traditions around the world related to the harvest season, including the Jewish Sukkot, India's rice festival, Pongol, Japan's Moon Viewing ceremony, and America's Thanksgiving.  The book also provides instructions for various activities and recipes.

Ben and I found this to be an intriguing, entertaining book, filled with kid-friendly information and vibrant illustrations. I even learned a few things myself!


Have you read any of the books above?  If so, what did you think of them?  Are there any other Thanksgiving-themed books that you recommend?  I would love to hear about them!

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