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A blog for kids (and their parents) who love books, words, and dreaming big...
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Thursday, December 31, 2015

The New Year...

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An excerpt:

The New Year, like an Infant Heir to the whole world, was waited for, with welcomes, presents, and rejoicings.

~ From The Chimes:
 A Goblin Story of Some Bells 
That Rang an Old Year Out
 and a New Year In
written by Charles Dickens

Wishing you all a safe and happy New Year's Eve! Goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016! :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Dimmest and Brightest Month Am I

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Dimmest and brightest month am I;
  My short days end, my lengthening days
    begin;
What matters more or less sun in the sky,
  When all is sun within?

~ Christina Rossetti

It's the winter solstice, with the shortest day and the longest night in the year. Around here the days have been gray and gloomy and dim lately, but inside our house, everything is twinkly and bright for Christmas -- it fills my heart with joy! 

As Rossetti says in this poem, now the days (the hours of sunlight) will start getting longer again. The important thing, however, is how you feel inside. Hope the sun inside you is shining brightly this week!

Monday, December 21, 2015

The first gift of Christmas...

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An excerpt:

     I knew that I could have any gift I could imagine. But the thing I wanted most for Christmas was not inside Santa's giant bag. What I wanted more than anything was one silver bell from Santa's sleigh. When I asked, Santa smiled. Then he gave me a hug and told an elf to cut a bell from a reindeer's harness. The elf tossed it up to Santa. He stood, holding the bell high above him, and called out, "The first gift of Christmas!"

~ from The Polar Express,
written by Chris Van Allsburg

The Polar Express is one of my favorite Christmas books. (I like the movie, too, but not as much as the book.) I love this scene and the meaning of the silver bell from Santa's sleigh. What would you ask Santa for?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Pine Tree Song

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Pine Tree Song

Little pines upon the hill,
Sleeping in the moonlight still,
Are you dreaming now of me
Who bloomed into a Christmas tree?
Baby moons of gold and red
Cuddle close beside my head;
In my tangled leaves a string
Of fairy stars are glimmering;
While my arms, for girls and boys,
Blossom with a hundred toys.
O little pines, it’s fun to live
To be a Christmas tree — and give.

~ Marjorie Barrows

I like how Barrows writes this rhyming poem from the perspective of a Christmas tree, and the image of fairy stars glimmering.  Which words or lines do you like best?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

All Aboard for Christmas Tales!

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I love Christmas stories -- all kinds -- and have a large collection of them. I've shared most of my collection in previous posts. (See the links at the bottom of this post.) This year I went looking for Christmas books at our local library. Here are a few of the tales that I really enjoyed and wanted to share with you:

Picture books:

It's Christmas,
written and illustrated by Tina Burke, 2006


It's that time of year again. Burke describes (and illustrates) some of the joys of the holiday season in this sweet little book.

***

A Star So Bright:
A Christmas Tale,
written by M. Christina Butler
and illustrated by Caroline Pedler, 2007


On each page of this book, different animals see a bright star in the sky. The star (shown through a cut-out in the paper) grows larger with every page turn, and we, the readers, get closer to the manger highlighted by the star. Butler's rhyming text is enhanced by Pedlar's charming illustrations.

***

Christmas Wombat,
written by Jackie French
and illustrated by Bruce Whatley, 2011


A very silly carrot-loving wombat hitches a ride on Santa's sleigh and discovers that there are many, many carrots in the world. This story kept me laughing out loud with each turn of a page. When I finished reading it, I immediately handed it off to my boys (almost 17 and 10), who were equally amused! I just might need to buy this one to add to my collection. :)

***

Christmas is Coming,
written by Anne Bowen
and illustrated by Tomek Bogacki, 2007


Throughout the holiday season, Anna tells her baby brother about the various signs that Christmas is coming -- the first snow, the lights, the tree, and more.  On Christmas Day she is very excited by the gifts that Santa has brought, but looking at her baby brother she suddenly realizes that he is the very best Christmas present of all.

***

One Snowy Night
written by M. Christina Butler
and illustrated by Tina Macnaughton, 2004


Father Christmas gives Little Hedgehog a red wooly hat to keep him warm. The hat ends up warming the hearts of all of Little Hedgehog's friends -- and turns out to be the perfect gift. This cute "Touch-and-Feel Book" allows readers to feel the soft red hat.

***

Snowed Under
and Other Christmas Confusions,
written and illustrated by Serge Bloch, 2011


This book is filled with idioms, Christmas-related and otherwise, along with humorous illustrations that interpret those idioms literally. Bloch uses phrases like "deck the halls", "tied up in knots", and "red-handed" to tell his tale of a family getting ready for Christmas.

***

The Little Fir Tree,
written by Margaret Wise Brown
and illustrated by Jim Lamarche, 1954 (text),
2005 (illustrations)


Although this has the same title as Hans Christian Andersen's famous tale, Brown's The Little Fir Tree is a completely different story -- one that is heartwarming, not depressing like Andersen's. A little fir tree grows alone in a field, wishing he could be part of the forest... or at least part of something. One winter day a man finds the tree. He digs the tree up and brings him to share with a special boy and to be part of a great Celebration.

***

Lighthouse Christmas,
written by Toni Buzzeo
and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, 2011


Frances, Peter, and Papa recently moved to a lighthouse island off the coast of Maine and Frances is feeling lonely. Now a big storm is keeping even the supply boats away. Will it keep Santa away as well?

This engaging story is inspired by a true Christmas tradition, the Flying Santa Service.

***

December,
written by Eve Bunting
and illustrated by David Diaz, 1997


Simon and his mother are celebrating Christmas Eve in their cardboard house. They have a tiny tree and not much else, but when they meet an elderly woman with even less, they invite her in and offer to share what they have.

I love this book's vibrant illustrations and inspiring message.

***

Young adult fiction:

Let It Snow:
Three Holiday Romances,
written by John Green, Maureen Johnson,
and Lauren Myracle, 2008

This book is made up of three interconnected (and often hilarious) tales of teenage love and romance. A Christmas Eve snowstorm stops a train and transforms Gracetown into a winter wonderland. Strangers meet, old friends look at each other in a new way, and, in the midst of it all is a tiny teacup pig named Gabriel.

***

For more Christmas books, please check out my posts from previous years:


Have you read any of the books shown above? If so, what did you think of them? 

What are your favorite Christmas stories?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Write a lot.

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"You have to write a lot. 
And you have to rewrite 
what you wrote a lot more." 

~ Holly Black 

Good advice for writers! :)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

December

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December

First snow! The flakes
  So few, so light, 
Remake the world
  In solid white.

All bundled up,
  We feel as if
We were fat penguins,
  Warm and stiff.

Downtown, the stores
  Half split their sides,
And Mother brings home
  Things she hides.

Old carols peal.
  The dusk is dense.
There is a mood
  Of sweet suspense.

The shepherds wait,
  The kings, the tree--
All wait for something
  Yet to be,

Some miracle.
  And then it's here,
Wrapped up in hope--
  Another year!

~ John Updike

There are so many things I love about the month of December -- and Updike includes many of them in this poem. What are your favorite things about December?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Logophile


This week's word is logophile [law-guh-fahyl], a noun which means "a lover of words". I only recently learned this word, but it is most definitely one I will be using from now on!

I admit this proudly: I am a logophile!

Are you?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Nope.

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"I cannot live without books."

 ~ Thomas Jefferson

Nope, I can't do it. Wouldn't want to try. Would you?

Monday, December 14, 2015

I Heard a Bird Sing

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I Heard a Bird Sing

I heard a bird sing
  In the dark of December
A magical thing
  And sweet to remember.
“We are nearer to Spring
  Than we were in September,”
I heard a bird sing
  In the dark of December.


~ Oliver Herford

This is a hopeful little poem, especially when it's been cold and snowy for weeks -- which is not the case here this year. Here it already feels like spring, LOL. Do you dream of spring in December?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A pretty little fir tree

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An excerpt:

     Out in the forest there stood a pretty little fir tree. It had a good place, for there was sun, plenty of air, and all around grew many larger trees. But the little tree thought of nothing but growing.

     "Oh, were I but a large tree like the others!" the little thing said. "For then I could stretch out my branches far around, and look out into the world. The birds would build nests in my branches, and when the wind blew I could nod as proudly as the others."

~ from The Little Fir Tree,
written by Hans Christian Andersen

This story of a fir that grows up to become a Christmas tree is a sad one, for the fir never learns to enjoy its life at the moment and is always wishing for greater things. It's easy to look at the past and wish things were like "the old days" or to look towards the future, hoping for something better than what we have now. I believe, however, that it's best to try appreciating the present and all the blessings surrounding us right now. What do you think?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

From the ether...

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"As soon as I could write, 
I wrote poetry, 
and I guess I must have 
got stuck then 
because I'm still doing it.  
Why?  Because it is so satisfying.  
A thought springs 
to one's mind from the ether, 
then turns to words that fall 
into lines and shapes and sounds, 
get rearranged, form a picture, 
shout a feeling, weep, laugh. [...] 
And all in time to see 
the whole thing come to fruition, 
hold the finished work in one's hand, 
sometimes without even missing dinner."

~ Felice Hoffman, 
in The Place My Words are Looking For

I really like how Hoffman describes writing poetry here and I agree -- it is so satisfying! I really need to do more of it. What do you think about what she said?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Wassail


You may have heard the old Christmas carol, The Gloucestershire Wassail, with the chorus that goes like this:

Wassail! wassail! all over the town,
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;
With the wassailing bowl we'll drink to thee.

This week's word is wassail [wo-seyl], a noun meaning "a salutation wishing health to a person" or the name of a drink at festivities, especially spiced ale. In addition, wassailing is another word for caroling house to house.

Our local high school choir performs a Madrigal Celebration every December. At one point during the show, all of the guests are given a cup of warm wassail (not ale, but rather a mixture of apple cider and orange juice) to toast to the king and queen while the choir students sing The Gloucestershire Wassail. It's always a fun part of the holiday season for me! :)

Here are some examples I came up with, using this week's word:

When I was younger, 
I loved wassailing with my friends 
at Christmastime! (True story.)

Please pass the wassail.

Wassail to you!

Have you ever tasted wassail or gone wassailing? How would you use the word in a sentence?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Snow

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Snow

Snow has magic
in its touch.
It makes the world
change very much;
it bends the hands
of spruces low
with fluffy mittens
full of snow;
it turns the road
and house and yard
into a great big
Christmas card.

~ Aileen Fisher

It has been unseasonably warm here lately and we don't have any snow at the moment. I hope we will get some soon because I love how it magically changes the world around us, as Fisher says in her poem. I'm ready for my house and yard to look like a Christmas card! How about you? Do you like the way snow looks?

Monday, December 7, 2015

How long will we feed them?

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An excerpt:

     The snowman stood alone... but only for a short time.

     "They have eaten everything... even the carrot nose," whispered the little sister peeking out from behind the evergreens.

     "Let's put out more seeds and corn before they come back," encouraged the brother. "The animals will never know we were here."

     "How long will we feed them?" she asked.

     "For a long, long time," he replied. "After the snow has gone and the snowman has melted away, until the frogs start to sing and the trees grow new leaves."

~ from Stranger in the Woods
written by Carl R. Sams II & Jean Stoick

We don't have any snow on the ground at the moment, but I am wishing for a winter wonderland. I love snow and making snowmen... and would love it even more if a snowman of mine attracted the attention of some wildlife like the one in this story! How about you?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Writing all the time...

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“I assume that what I’m doing 
is writing all the time — 
even though I’m actually 
doing something else. 
When you are stuck and you go out 
into the garden to pull weeds, 
you are still writing. 
Part of you is. 
That’s why it’s vitally important 
to have a notebook beside your bed. 
Often the resolution of a difficult bit 
that I wrote the day before, 
and that I was stuck on, 
will trot along in front of my eyes 
when I’m lying in bed just waking up. 
So writing isn’t just 
sitting in front of the keyboard,
 although that’s a fairly vital part of the process. You’re still being a writer 
when you are reading or making notes, 
or just enjoying yourself.”

 ~ Terry Pratchett, 
in The Wand in the Word: 
Conversations with Writers of Fantasy

I like what Pratchett says here about writing and writers. Even when I'm busy doing something, fun or not, my mind is still working on my stories and poems! Have you ever noticed that happening to you?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Snow-Flakes

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Snow-Flakes

Out of the bosom of the Air,
  Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare
  Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
    Silent, and soft, and slow
    Descends the snow.

Even as our cloudy fancies take
  Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
Even as the troubled heart doth make
  In the white countenance confession,
    The troubled sky reveals
    The grief it feels.

This is the poem of the air,
  Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
This is the secret of despair,
  Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
    Now whispered and revealed
    To wood and field.

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For me, snow usually brings happy thoughts to mind, but in this poem snow takes on a sad, melancholy feeling.  I love the imagery in Longfellow's words and also the sounds, especially the last two lines of each stanza. My favorite line, though, is "This is the poem of the air,/Slowly in silent syllables recorded" -- to me, that is simply beautiful. What do you like (or dislike) about this poem?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

An entire world...

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"To read a book 
is to hold 
an entire world 
in the palm of your hand." 

~ Arthur Schopenhauer

I love this idea of a book as a world. How many worlds have you held in your hands this year?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Convivial


The word I want to share with you this week is convivial [kuh n-viv-ee-uh l], an adjective that means "friendly", "agreeable" and also  "merry company" or "festive". I think it is an appropriate word for the holiday season. :) 

Here are a few examples I came up with using the word:

She is so convivial, it's contagious!

Lights, decorations, gifts, fun movies, delicious food... 
the holidays always make me feel convivial.

With his twinkling eyes, big smile, distinctive laugh, 
and heart of gold, Santa Claus is the 
epitome of a convivial soul.

What ways can you think of to use the word convivial?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Winter Moon

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Winter Moon

How thin and sharp is the moon tonight!
How thin and sharp and ghostly white
Is the slim curved crook of the moon tonight!

~ Langston Hughes

I don't know about you, but I can't believe that it's December already! Where did the year go?? 

I know that winter doesn't officially start for a few more weeks, but I always consider the 1st of December to be the beginning of the winter season. (Especially when we've already had snow, like this year!) I love to step outside at night during the winter, enjoying the soft white ground all around, glowing in the moonlight. Do you? I also like the different ways that Hughes describes the moon in this short poem.

Monday, November 30, 2015

A lovely place to play...

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An excerpt:

     The attic was a lovely place to play. The large, round, colored pumpkins made beautiful chairs and tables. The red peppers and the onions dangled overhead. The hams and the venison hung in their paper wrappings, and all the bunches of dried herbs, the spicy herbs for cooking and the bitter herbs for medicine, gave the place a dusty-spicy smell.

     Often the wind howled outside with a cold and lonesome sound. But in the attic Laura and Mary played house with the squashes and the pumpkins, and everything was snug and cosy.

~ from Little House in the Big Woods,
written by Laura Ingalls Wilder

When I was growing up, I, too, thought our attic was a lovely place to play. We did not store food in our attic, however. Ours was filled instead with boxes and bags of all sizes. Each one contained cast-off, long-forgotten items. I loved poking through them, looking for "treasure". My mom also kept her guitar in our attic. I spent many a day sitting next to our attic window, watching dust particles floating through the sunshine and strumming on that guitar, making up little songs to go with the tune.

I was in elementary school when I first read the Little House books. I remember reading the passage above and thinking that the sight and smell of all those foods would make an attic even more wonderful to play in. The image has stuck with me ever since. Does Laura and Mary's attic sound like a place you would like to play in?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Slow down...

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"For me poetry 
has always been a way of 
paying attention to the world.  
We hear so many voices every day, 
swirling around us, 
and a poem makes us 
slow down and listen carefully 
to a few things we have really heard, 
deep inside." 

~ Naomi Shihab Nye, 
in The Place My Words are Looking For


I like this description of poetry, "a way of paying attention to the world". Poems, whether I'm reading them or writing them, do cause me to slow down, examine the world around me, listen to it, and focus on things I might not even notice otherwise. Do you agree with Nye's words here? Why or why not?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Books fall open...

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Books fall open, you fall in,
delighted where you've never been.
Hear voices not once heard before,
reach world through world, 
through door on door;
find unexpected keys to things,
locked up beyond imaginings….
True books will venture, dare you out,
whisper secrets, maybe shout,
across the gloom to you in need,
who hanker for a book to read.

~ David McCord

It's only recently that I finally found this poem and read all of the lines I'm sharing here today. (I'm not sure that this is McCord's entire poem, however -- it seems to be only a part of it.) But I've known the first line of this poem for many, many years. I used to have a set of book plate stickers (now all lovingly stuck into the front covers of my favorite books) with an illustration from Mary Engelbreit and the quote "Books fall open, you fall in...." on them. I love falling into books! How about you?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thank You

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An excerpt:

     [...] My husband, John, leads the prayer, beginning with the words "O Lord, bless this food and the hands that prepared it." Since those hands are most often mine, I like that, but I know that it is not just my hands that brought this food to the table. There are the farmers, like my friends the Paquins; the grocer, like my friend Jim Taylor; and many more whose names and contributions I'll never know -- not to mention the sun, the rain, the good earth, and the plants and animals whose lives nourish my life.

     If I think of everything and everyone who helped bring a meal to my table, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. But that is good. Mister Eckhart, who died almost seven hundred years ago, said, "If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is 'thank you', it will be enough."

~ from Giving Thanks: 
Poems, Prayers, and 
Praise Songs of Thanksgiving,
edited and with reflections by Katherine Paterson

Today I am thankful for so many things: my family, my friends, my home, the food on my table, good books, time to write... the list goes on and on. I am also thankful for the opportunity to write this blog and for you, my readers. I hope that your own lists of blessings are as long as mine and I am wishing you all a wonderful, happy Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Myriad


The word I want to share with you this week is myriad [mir-ee-uh d], a noun meaning "a countless or extremely great number of persons or things". (It can also specifically mean "ten thousand", a fact I didn't know before looking up the definition for this post!) Here are some sample sentences I wrote using the word:

I am thankful for a myriad of blessings.

I love to lie on the ground at night, 
gazing up at the myriad of stars shining above me.

My yard is covered with a myriad of colorful leaves.

How would you use myriad in a sentence?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving

The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest is all gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain.
So open wide the doorway-
Thanksgiving comes again!

~ Author unknown

I can't believe how quickly the year has flown by -- can you? Thanksgiving is almost here once more. Open wide that doorway and welcome it in! :)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Someplace to go...

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PublicDomainPictures.net

"Reading gives us 
someplace to go 
when we have to stay 
where we are." 

~ Mason Cooley

One of the things I love about reading is its ability to transport me to other towns, other countries, and other worlds -- while never actually leaving the comfort of my own home. (I love to travel in real life, as well. I just don't often have the means to do so.) What places have you enjoyed visiting through books? 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Voices in the reader's head...

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"Writing isn't just on the page; 
it's voices in the reader's head. 
Read what you write 
out loud to someone -- anyone -- 
and you will catch all kinds of things."  

~ Donna Jo Napoli

I agree with Napoli. Whenever I write something, I always go back later and read it aloud -- to myself, to our cockatiel, to my kids. I always learn more about my writing and discover more quickly what needs to be rewritten when I do this than I do when I read it silently to myself. Have you tried reading your work out loud? If so, did it help you with your writing?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

November Morning

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November Morning

A tingling, misty marvel
Blew hither in the night,
And now the little peach-trees
Are clasped in frozen light.

Upon the apple branches
An icy film is caught,
With trailing threads of gossamer
In pearly patterns wrought.

The autumn sun, in wonder,
Is gayly peering through
This silver tissued network
Across the frosty blue.

The weather vane is fire tipped,
The honeysuckle shows
A dazzling icy splendor,
And crystal is the rose.

Around the eaves are fringes
Of icicles that seem
To mock the summer rainbows
With many colored gleam.

Along the walk, the pebbles
Are each a precious stone;
The grass is tasseled hoarfrost,
The clover jewel sown.

Such sparkle, sparkle, sparkle
Fills all the frosty air,
Oh, can it be that darkness
Is ever anywhere!

~ Evaleen Stein

I like Stein's descriptions in this poem. They remind me of times when the world outside my window has glittered with ice or frost. I especially like the phrases "trailing threads of gossamer", "fringes/Of icicles", and "tasseled hoarfrost". Which words do you like best in this poem?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Talking Turkey: Books for Thanksgiving

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It's almost time for turkey! (Or ham or whatever it is that you like to eat on Thanksgiving Day. I know I'm especially looking forward to the pie!) I always like to get ready for holidays by reading books about them. Earlier this month I brought home a big stack of Thanksgiving books from our local library. I read through them all and picked out the ones that I enjoyed the most, shown below, to help you and your family get into the holiday spirit:

Picture Books:

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,
written and illustrated by Charles M. Schultz, 2002


This book is based on the animated television special A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving that first aired in 1973. I remember watching it every year as a young girl. In the story, Peppermint Patty invites herself and some other friends to Charlie Brown's home for Thanksgiving. Little does she know that the only things Charlie Brown can "cook" are cold cereal and toast. With the help of Linus, Snoopy, and Woodstock, he comes up with an unusual Thanksgiving dinner that the friends will never forget!

For me, celebrating with the Peanuts gang (whether in book or movie form) is a Thanksgiving tradition, both amusing and sweet.

***

The Great Thanksgiving Escape,
written and illustrated by Mark Fearing, 2014


Gavin is ready for another boring holiday with his relatives, but his cousin Rhonda has a different idea. "Sometimes," she tells him, "you have to make your own fun." Can they make it through the Hall of Aunts or the horde of zombie teenagers? Or will they be captured before they've had a taste of freedom?

Although I can't relate to the whole "boring holiday with relatives" premise (because spending Thanksgiving or any other day with a houseful of my relatives has always been something I look forward to), this story cracked me up! I especially love Fearing's hilarious illustrations.

***

Fat Chance Thanksgiving,
written by Patricia Lakin
and illustrated by Stacey Schuett, 2001


Carla and Mama move into their new apartment. Every day, Carla dreams of being just like the smiling Pilgrim girl in her favorite book, surrounded by family and friends at a big Thanksgiving feast. "Fat chance," Mama says. Their apartment is tiny, Mama doesn't have much money, and their loved ones live far away. "Let's be thankful for what we do have and not wish for the impossible." But Carla wants this so badly -- and she has an idea of how to make it work...

I found this to be a charming story. I particularly appreciated Carla's positive outlook on life and her determination to make her dream come true. 

***

Nickommoh!:
A Thanksgiving Celebration,
written by Jackie French Koller
and illustrated by Marcia Sewall, 1999


According to the author's note at the back of this book, "Long before the first Pilgrim set foot in the New World, Native Americans were celebrating rites of thanksgiving [...]. Nickommah was the name given by the Narragansett Indian Tribe of present-day Rhode Island to these celebrations." This story describes such an observance. A glossary in the back provides definitions for the many Narragansett words used throughout the book.

Koller's poetic language and Sewall's richly-decorated illustrations combine to create a book both compelling and educational.

***

A Thanksgiving Wish,
written by Michael J. Rosen
and illustrated by John Thompson, 1999


Every Thanksgiving, Amanda's family has gathered at her grandmother Bubbe's house. It was Bubbe's special holiday and she would spend the entire month of November getting ready for it. Amanda's favorite part was always at bedtime, when Bubbe let Amanda choose a wishbone to make a Thanksgiving wish. But now her grandmother has passed away. Amanda's family gathers together, but nothing is the same. And Bubbe is not there this year to share a wish.

This is a sad yet heart-warming book. I recommend reading it with some Kleenex close by! Thompson's stunning paintings complement the story well.

***

Early Readers:

Annie and Snowball and the Thankful Friends,
written by Cynthia Rylant
and illustrated by Sucie Stevenson, 2011


Annie loves Thanksgiving. There is a big table at her house and she wants lots of people around it this year for the feast. But Annie just lives with her father and her rabbit, Snowball. Who can she invite to share the holiday meal with them?

This book for beginning readers shows how special it can be to include those around us in our holiday activities.

***

The Thanksgiving Beast Feast,
written and illustrated by Karen Gray Ruelle, 1999


Thanksgiving is Harry's favorite holiday, and Emily's, too, because they love the food. When their mother explains that the holiday is also about giving thanks, and teaches them about the first Thanksgiving, the siblings come up with an idea to share a feast with some unusual guests, their neighborhood wildlife.

I liked this book because the story reminded me of my own kids. I can just picture them going along with Harry and Emily's idea! I also enjoyed the gentle humor that Ruelle included throughout.

***

The Know-Nothings Talk Turkey
written by Michele Sobel Spirn
and illustrated by R. W. Alley, 2000


The Know-Nothings -- Boris, Morris, Norris, and Doris -- are not sure how to celebrate Thanksgiving until Doris reads about it in a book. She explains that many people serve a turkey dinner. But how can they serve the turkey his dinner if he won't even sit down?

This is a fun, silly book that kids will love to read. It will leave them (and any adults listening or reading along) laughing!

***

Middle Grade Nonfiction:

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving,
written by Catherine O'Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac,
photographs by Sissie Brimberg and Cotton Coulson, 2001


From the book's inside front cover: "Taking a new look at Thanksgiving means putting aside the myth. It means taking a new look at history. It means questioning what we think we know. It means recovering lost voices -- the voices of the Wampanoag people. True history includes the voices of all its participants. Read, listen, and think about our shared history."

I was fascinated by this book. I'll admit, I had never looked much beyond the myths of Thanksgiving before. I learned so many things about the Wampanoag people and the true history of Thanksgiving from these pages. I also enjoyed looking at the photographs, taken at Plimoth Plantation in 2000, when several hundred people (including over one hundred Wampanoag) gathered there to reenact the 1621 harvest gathering.

***

Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and
Praise Songs of Thanksgiving,
edited and with reflections by Katherine Paterson
and illustrated by Pamela Dalton, 2013


This special book contains over 50 prayers, poems, and songs from a wide range of cultures, religions, and voices, including Desmond Tutu, e. e. cummings, John Wesley, and Wendell Berry. Combined with Dalton's gorgeous cut-paper artwork and reflections from Paterson, this book is one I would love to add to my collection! I know that I would turn to it again and again -- and not only in November.

***

My Very Own Thanksgiving:
A Book of Cooking and Crafts,
written by Robin West
and illustrated by Robert L. and Diane Wolfe (photos)
and Susan Slattery Burke (drawings), 1993


The recipes in this book are divided into five different menus: Harvest Feast, Take Pity on the Turkey, Set Sail on the Mayflower, The Big Game, and We Gather Together. They include several easy recipes for beginners, plus some more-advanced recipes for kids and parents to work on together. I have not had a chance to try any of the recipes yet, but there are several that caught my eye. I plan to make a few next week!

In between recipes you will find step-by-step instructions for five cute Thanksgiving crafts, as well as stories, Thanksgiving facts, and ideas for fun games to play over the holidays.

***

Thanksgiving
written by Ellyn Sanna, 2005


This cookbook contains 17 delicious-sounding recipes for your holiday feast as well as information about Thanksgiving culture, history, and traditions. Again, I found some recipes inside that I am putting on my menu for next week!

I found this book in my library's middle grade nonfiction section. In my opinion, however, this one seems like it belongs more in the young adult or adult section. Younger children can certainly help out with these recipes but -- with the exception of the Cranberry Nut Snack Mix recipe -- I wouldn't recommend allowing an elementary school child to try making them on his/her own.

***

For even more books about Thanksgiving, here are links to my posts from previous years:

Celebrating Thanksgiving With Books
A Feast of Books for Thanksgiving

Have you read any of the books above? If so, I'd love to hear what you thought of them. Also, please share any of your favorite Thanksgiving books that you don't see here -- I am always looking for new ones to read! :)