The First Thanksgiving: A Lift-the-Flap Book
Thanksgiving sometimes is a challenge when planning story time for little ones. Either you find books on the imminent death of the turkey (who then, humorously, becomes the guest of honor), or newly illustrated versions of Over the River and Through the Woods. This sweetly done board books with lift-the-flaps is a nice addition to a Thanksgiving holiday collection. Told in the manner of The House that Jack Built, the rhyme and pictures follow the round-faced pilgrims from England to the New Land where they are befriended and educated by the natives, set about planting crops, and celebrate with a banquet to which they invite their new friends. The pilgrims are all rosy cheeked and blonde. The native people are rosy-cheeked and brown-skinned. The pictures are easily talked about as the flaps reveal enterprising Pilgrims companionably fishing with the Indians, spinning, planting, and eating. The Thanksgiving dinner shows both groups of people share a celebratory meal. In addition to the obvious lesson about the Pilgrims settlement of the Massachusetts colony, this book can be expanded to lessons on cooperation, sharing, and helping our neighbors. Kids will ask for repeat readings so that they can manipulate the pages. 2010, Simon and Schuster Children’s Division, Ages 1 to 4, $5.99. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross (Children’s Literature).
Katie Kazoo Switcheroo: Don’t Be Such a Turkey!
Illustrated by John and Wendy
Thanksgiving is coming and Katie Carew is excited about a trip to a Pilgrim village with her class, and a trip to visit her cousin in New York City. Right on schedule, Katie’s personal “ill wind” blows through, sending her on two separate adventures dealing with Thanksgiving traditions. While at Morrow Village, Katie changes place with a pilgrim reenactor and gets the woman fired by acting like a contemporary fourth grader in Pilgrim’s clothing. Once Katie changes back, she and her classmates set about getting the woman rehired by proving to management how helpful she has been to visitors. Then Katie goes off to the Big Apple where her cousin Emily’s friend, Sarah, is boasting about being a clown in the Macy’s parade. Fans of Katie will know that another switcheroo is coming, and Katie ends up in Sarah’s clown costume and red wig with no knowledge of the acrobatic routines that Sarah has practiced. When Katie is herself, again, she convinces the press that Sarah heroically saved her from being lost in Central Park and makes the confused girl a fifteen-minute celebrity. It is all good fun mixed with some fast facts about how Pilgrims and Native Americans lived in the 16th century. Kids who regularly watch the Macy’s parade will enjoy learning how many handlers are needed to steer a giant balloon, and how participants in the parade are selected. It is light, it is fun, and it is great practice for chapter book readers. The humor and interplay of Katie and her friends makes this a good, quick read-aloud for adults to share with children, as well. “Katie Kazoo Switcheroo” series. 2010, Grosset and Dunlap/Penguin, Ages 7 to 10, $4.99. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross (Children’s Literature).
Katie Woo: Katie Saves Thanksgiving
Illustrated by Tammie Lyon
Katie and her father discuss the Pilgrims and the Thanksgiving tradition while they wait for friends to come over, but they start to worry when the snow starts to fall heavily. Then Katie's mom discovers that the stove is not working. JoJo and Pedro call Katie from their car, where they are stuck and waiting for a tow truck. Katie and her dad go outside to shovel snow, and Katie decides to shovel off the neighbor, Mrs. West's sidewalk. Mrs. West, who has cooked a feast in anticipation of her own family's arrival, is saddened when she learns the snow has caused flight delays. When JoJo and Pedro finally arrive, Katie invites Mrs. West (and her dinner) to their house for Thanksgiving. Three short chapters employ simple, repetitive language that will appeal to young readers, and Lyon's cheerful, watercolor cartoon images highlight the action in every page. End pages include notes and photos of both author and illustrator; a glossary; discussion questions; writing prompts; a simple recipe for "Pilgrim cookies" and an invitation to a website with more activities. The book would make a good holiday gift or could be used for several short classroom lessons. 2011, Picture Window Books, Ages 5 to 8, $3.95 and $14.39. Reviewer: Dawna Lisa Buchanan (Children’s Literature).
Trudi Strain Trueit
The smiley face of a young boy peeks over a roasted turkey on the cover of this book that invites readers in to learn about Thanksgiving. Before the readers begin they discover a spread of “Picture Words” that pairs up pictures and words to be found in the text. The book is from the “Holiday Fun” series where all books are set in an easy reader format of 24 pages with one page of large print text on the left and a bright, colorful photo on the right. Books, dogs, family, pumpkin pie, and turkey are a few of the picture/word pairs. In this specific book a repetitive pattern of the words, “I am thankful for…” is followed by a picture that young readers can easily identify. The patterning gives readers the opportunity to “read” simple sentences such as, “I am thankful for toys.” Vivid, colorful photos of children wearing their best smiles add to the enjoyment. End matter includes a simple “Words to Know” page that offers definitions and pronunciations for family, thankful, and Thanksgiving. An additional page lists books and up-to-date websites with more information. This book makes a good supplement to holiday units or to social studies and history lessons. 2011, Marshall Cavendish, Ages 5 to 7, $22.70. Reviewer: Nancy Attebury (Children's Literature).
Too Many Turkeys
Illustrated by Megan Lloyd
When a little lost turkey turns up on Fred and Belle’s farm, Belle fears for her garden along with the “infernal mess” he will make. But Fred chooses to keep and care for him, naming him Buford. And Belle finds that his manure makes her garden flourish, and her neighbors curious and envious. Trouble begins when Belle goes to a convention. A wild hen turkey refuses to be shoo-ed away. She returns with many friends, and despite Fred’s desperate and hilarious efforts, he cannot get rid of the ever-increasing crowd of turkeys. He finally has to give Belle’s gardening secret away to the neighbors, on the understanding that they each take away a turkey, along with some turkey “plop,” garden debris, and seeds. When she returns, Belle is surprised at the neat farm, as well as the fact that the neighbors all have turkeys. Fred is happy with just Buford, until… Lloyd offers page after double page of glorious turkeys, with scarlet and blue accents on their attractively textured brown bodies; enough of them to fill yards and fields with agitated fowls. Watercolors and pen and ink drawings depict the orderly homestead, comfortable interior, and the cast of characters, peaceful at sleep but wild in the daylight until the birds find new homes, leaving a bucolic landscape and “spectacular gardens.” “Green” farming at its best. 2010, Holiday House, Ages 4 to 8, $16.95. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).
Illustrated by John Manders
Surprise! This paper back book is not about a regular Thanksgiving but about turkeys gathering and enjoying a feast. Vibrant pictures show active turkeys with blue necks, brown bodies, and multicolor fan tails. Chicks are yellow. The turkeys drive cars, ride bikes, trains, boats, and fly airplanes. They march in a parade with a red banner that says, “Cranberry High School.” They dance, flip, flop, trot, and skip. Some wear shoes. They arrive at picnic tables while carrying picnic baskets. There they meet, greet, and sit down to eat. Children may identify some of the food on the table as corn, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and bread. There is no turkey to eat! “The turkeys sing and dance and play.” They go home after a happy day. This level 1, beginning reader will be fun for children. 2010, Cartwheel Books/Scholastic, Ages 5 to 6, $3.99 and $4.99. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman (Children’s Literature).
Why Did the Pilgrims Come to the New World?
Laura Hamilton Waxman
In the 1600s Puritans and Separatists broke with the Anglican Church and sought relief from persecution first in Holland and then in the New World. After a perilous voyage on the Mayflower, they arrived at what is now called Plymouth on Cape Cod. Before settling in they drew up and signed the Mayflower Compact on the ship. The signers were not a homogeneous group, nor were they all members of religious sects.. All agreed to stay, work together, and treat each other fairly. Many died that first winter. Samoset and Squanto, Native Americans who spoke English, helped them. The first harvest in 1621 led to a feast which became Thanksgiving. A question at the end of each chapter leads into the next chapter. Unusual words appear in boxes with a line leading to the margin where the word is defined. Sidebars pictured on notebook paper answer further questions with information such as “The word pilgrim refers to a person who travels to a sacred place for a religious purpose.” Colored photographs, maps, and reproductions of famous paintings enhance the text. This is one of the “Six Questions of American History” series. There is a timeline, source notes, bibliography, list for further reading and web sites, and an index. This interesting account for young people explains the various controversies surrounding the Mayflower voyage and explains how they were overcome. 2011, Lerner Publications Company/Lerner Publishing Group, Ages 12 to 18, $29.27. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman (Children’s Literature).
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