Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thankfulness (and a Turkey...and some Monsters!)

Thanksgiving is fast approaching.  It makes sense that November is associated with giving thanks.  But shouldn't we be doing that right along?  Developing a sense of gratitude, beyond a mumbled "thank you" is, in my view, essential for empathy, courtesy, and community.  Even if my boys don't always understand the "why" behind our family routines, they learn as they grow that saying "Thank you for dinner" to the one placing food on the table is at once polite, respectful, and thankful for that day's meal.  Here is an interesting assortment of books related to gratefulness.  From a silly turkey tale, to a Native American Thanksgiving Address, to a child's perspective on thanks, to a monster book (!), I hope you find some fun and thankfulness to share with your kids this season.  I'm hosting Thanksgiving this year, so I'm taking next Wednesday off in preparation! I am so thankful for the opportunity to share my love of children's books with all of you, my faithful readers.  Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message (Author: Chief Jake Swamp; Illustrator: Erwin Printup, Jr.) – Opening: “To be a human being is an honor, and we offer thanksgiving for all the gifts of life.”  Ever so humble, this beautiful book reminds us of all that we have to be thankful for.  In the Author’s Note, Chief Swamp provides the background for this book: “The words in this book are based on the Thanksgiving Address, an ancient message of peace and appreciation of Mother Earth and all her inhabitants.”  

All of Me!: A Book of Thanks (Molly Bang) – In a variation on toddler books that teach body parts and senses, Molly Bang illustrates a book in which a child gives thanks for a fully functioning body and all the marvelous things it can do.  Using paper bags and various artsy odds and ends, her illustrations are kid-friendly and highly accessible, to the point that it teaches readers how to make their own books. (See the back endpapers!)  This lovely, simple book from a child’s perspective brings home the need to give thanks for our amazing bodies!
Beauty and the Beaks: A Turkey’s Cautionary Tale (Mary Jane and Herm Auch) – From School Library Journal: “Wonderfully creative handmade characters and sets are the highlight of this over-the-top chicken tale…. A humorous story about dressing a turkey, but not in the usual manner.”  If you have not picked up any of Mary Jane and Herm Auch’s books, you are missing out!  Their photographed chicken sculptures/scenes draw the reader in as much as the story, which in itself if full of wit, puns, and barnyard humor!  In this off-beat Thanksgiving story, the hens of The Chic Hen Beauty Shop stop at nothing to help an arrogant (and ignorant) turkey (“This feast is a very eggsclusive event.  There’s only one bird invited. Me!”) avoid the fate of being stuffed with chestnuts.  You’ll be groaning your way through this delightful book…and not because you ate too much at Thanksgiving!

The Monsters’ Monster (Patrick McDonnell) – First of all, who can resist the opening line: “Grouch, Grump, and little Gloom ‘n’ Doom thought they were monsters.”?  Patrick McDonnell’s illustrations are quirky, exaggerated, and cartoonish; perfectly suited for this hilarious book about little, BAD monsters who decide to create a BIG, BAD monster.  Only their plan doesn’t go as they'd hoped.  Their BIG, BAD monster is… thankful, gentle, and generous!  An oddly appropriate book for the Thanksgiving season.


  1. This looks like a great collection of fun books. I am thankful to you for sharing them!