As a child of the 80’s I grew up on the Berenstain Bears. I thought I had read them all, but recently I stumbled upon The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin by: Stan and Jan Berenstain. Set in late fall, Papa Bear and the cubs learn an important lesson about accepting disappointment and being ‘good loosers’ after Papa places third in the giant pumpkin competition despite all his hard work and perseverance (and, maybe getting a little too caught up in the competition itself). At the end of the book they realize the silver lining of their situation- delicious pumpkin pie for their Thanksgiving feast!
My daughter loves everything Fancy Nancy and despite the main character’s tendency toward materialism I love that each story conveys a life lesson while at the same time enriching your child’s vocabulary. Fancy Nancy continues her exploits in Fancy Nancy Our Thanksgiving Banquet By: Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser. As usual, Nancy finds herself torn between two worlds- too big for the kids table and too little for the adult table. She winds up spilling some gravy and getting horribly bored at the adults table before she finds her niche- supervising the younger children and teaching them how to make turkeys out of their hands. Way to go Nancy!
I am in LOVE with Natasha Wing’s series of ‘The Night Before’ books. She has so creatively reimagined the old ‘T’was the Night Before Christmas’ poem into a whole world of different holidays and childhood events. In The Night Before Thanksgiving we follow a family (in poetic rhyme) through the preparations for their Thanksgiving feast complete with stranded relatives, parades, hordes of cousins, stuffing olives on your fingers (I totally did this as a kid), and flying turkeys. Oh, and don’t forget the turkey left overs!!
This next title is part of another clever series of books- ‘How to catch a…..’ In How to Catch a Turkey by: Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton we take another rhyming adventure with a turkey who has stage fright. He escapes the school’s Thanksgiving day play and runs ‘helter skelter’ through the halls avoiding flying mashed potatoes, library books, and recess equipment before finally embracing his stage debut.
This is another ‘reinventing’ series that I have been loving lately, Lucille Colandro has put her own clever twist on the ‘there was an old lady that swallowed a fly’ kids rhyme. In There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Turkey that crazy old gal with pica returns to swallow and then barf up an entire Thanksgiving day parade. So fun and so crazy my kids just can’t stop asking me to read this one over and over again.
Arthur was always one of my favorites as a kid and now he’s back in his sleek, modernized PBS kids form in Arthur’s Thanksgiving by: Marc Brown. Poor soft spoken Arthur finds himself suddenly elected to be the director of his school’s Thanksgiving day play. Unfortunately, no one wants the role of playing the turkey because it is too silly and embarrassing. Arthur ‘takes one for the team’ by agreeing to the part so the play doesn’t have to be canceled but instead of his classmates teasing him about it they secretly arrange a show of solidarity and surprise him by all dressing as turkeys.
Thelonius Turkey Lives! (on Felicia Ferguson’s Farm) by: Lynn Rowe Reed is a turkey tale with a twist. Throughout the entire book (which is a countdown to Thanksgiving) poor Thelonius thinks that he is about to become dinner so he takes matters into his own, uh, feathers and pulls pranks and sets traps for his owner to stop her from cooking him. On the last day before Thanksgiving, certain she is taking him to the butcher, he actually finds out she has been using his feathers to make special hats which she sells throughout the world. A much relieved Thelonius happily celebrates Thanksgiving day with his owner.
Sometimes it’s Turkey, Sometimes it’s Feathers By: Lorna and Lecia Balian follows a similar plot twist to Thelonius’s tale. During the entire story you are convinced that the old lady (Mrs. Gumm) and her cat are fattening up this poor turkey to eat for Thanksgiving dinner as she keeps remarking, ‘what a fine Thanksgiving dinner we will have” to her cat. Things get nerve-racking at the end when she prepares not only corn bread, but also her hatchet for the big night. Miraculously though the turkey joins Mrs. Gumm and her cat for dinner as a beloved friend and guest rather than the main course!
I feel I have saved the best for last with Thanksgiving At The Tappleton’s by: Eileen Spinelli. Again, we follow a family as they prepare for the big feast, but things go horribly wrong from the very moment Mike the milkman accidentally looses the turkey through a hole in the ice on the pond. Throughout the day pies get sold out, salads accidentally get fed to pet rabbits, and the mashed potatoes wind up on the walls. As each family member fails in their assigned task they are too embarrassed to tell the others of their short comings until it becomes stomach-growlingly clear that they have nothing to eat for the most special dinner of the year. Instead of getting angry at one another Grandma Tappleton saves the day with a prayer that reminds her family that Thanksgiving is about more than just dinner.
Remember, all these books are available for FREE through your local library and if they aren’t at your library they can always be borrowed for you through an interlibrary loan. Enjoy!