Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Turkey ... with a Side of Stories

First, I apologize to my readers for my recent hiatus. When life gets busy, blogging falls off the 'to do' list. But that's as it should be. As much as I enjoy sharing my book lists and staying connected to the world of children's literature online, I want to take advantage of kid lit opportunities in person, as much as possible.

And that's what I've been doing this month. First, I attended the NJ SCBWI Craft Weekend on the beautiful campus of the Princeton Theological Seminary. The faculty of agents, editors, and authors provided their collective wisdom on the children's book industry and offered a wide array of strategies for the aspiring author. Peer and professional critiques have jumpstarted my revision plans. Overall, it was well worth the trip!

This month, I also enjoyed the 17th Annual Rochester Children's Book Festival. This amazing, family-friendly festival is full of authors and illustrators signing books, offering workshops, and reading aloud. My boys also enjoyed Busy Bookworm Place, where they made a zebra out of the letter Z as a craft connection to Z is for Moose (which we had signed by illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky!). Check out this fun book trailer. We also had to stop at the tables of JANE YOLEN, JEFF MACK, and MATTHEW MCELLIGOTT! Going to this sort of thing is like a celebrity red-carpet event for me. I can never get enough!

Now for some Thanksgiving books :)

In November (by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Jill Kastner) - With lovely lyricism, Rylant ponders November: a month of goodbyes and goodnights, but also the month in which family and blessings are celebrated. Here is the final, beautiful spread: "In November, at winter's gate, the stars are brittle. The sun is a sometime friend. And the world has tucked her children in, with a kiss on their heads, till spring."

Turk and Runt: A Thanksgiving Comedy (by Lisa Wheeler; illustrated by Frank Ansley) - Turk, the big, burly brother is the apple of his parents' eye. He can dance and play football. He has a shot in life. Except that he's a turkey and his little brother Runt keeps pointing out the obvious, to no avail. Will the family start listening to Runt before it's too late? I am thankful that this story is a comedy, and not a tragedy.

The Peterkins' Thanksgiving (Adapted by Elizabeth Spurr; Illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin) - "The dinner, sir, it's stuck!" And so begins the Peterkins' Thanksgiving meal. A great deal of solutions are suggested and several strategies are tried. Join Mr. and Mrs. Peterkin and their six children as they try to free their dinner and salvage their Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving with Me (by Margaret Willey; illustrated by Lloyd Bloom) - A girl, eager for her uncles to join her for Thanksgiving dinner, asks her mother to recount family tales. In anticipation, she imagines the dancing and singing and feasting that the family will share.

The Ugly Pumpkin (by Dave Horowitz) - Told in rhyming first person, the sad and lonely Ugly Pumpkin goes on a journey to flee incessant teasing and find his place in the world. Garish illustrations add a bit of spookiness to this twist on The Ugly Duckling.

Gracias: The Thanksgiving Turkey (Joy Cowley; Joe Cepeda) - New York City is known for its diversity, but a turkey in an apartment building? Unheard of! So when Miguel raises the turkey his father sent for him to fatten up for Thanksgiving, he faces challenges, not the least of which is developing a friendship with the bird that is supposed to be dinner! Read this lovely English/Spanish story to find out if Gracias gets pardoned.


  1. Laura...sounds like your jaunts were so well worth it...both the SCBWI conference and the Book Festival. t appreciate you taking time away from writing (which somehow seems to take a second seat to blogging) to provide this AWESOME list of Thanksgiving titles!