Are your Thanksgiving dinners formal and fancy, with everyone sitting quietly in their chairs? Or are the kids throwing stuffing at each other? No matter how you celebrate the holiday in your home, here are a few books to add to the menu.
Lizard from the Park, written and illustrated by Mark Pett
Leonard is lonely. So lonely that he walks home from school every day by himself, cutting through a nearby park. One day, though, while walking in the park, he finds an egg — and takes it home. When the egg hatches, a lizard (or is it something else?) emerges. The two become best friends, but soon the lizard grows too large to stay with the little boy. Leonard devises a plan to use the town’s upcoming parade, typically resplendent with high-flying, giant balloons, as a way to find a new home for his friend.
Pett uses understated, uncomplicated prose and complimentary, muted artwork to bring us a warmhearted story about the importance of finding someone to bond with. The book has a cute and happy ending — perfect for a Thanksgiving Day read-aloud.
Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story, written by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
A 19th century Thanksgiving feast comes to life in this new book. At the heart of the story is a large, close-knit family and their interactions. Each of the family members, dressed in time-period garb, has an important task for the big day. Using repetitious rhyme, the young son instructs each one on what to do, from mashing the potatoes to baking a pie: Grandpa, cook the berries, please./Boil those bright red berries, please./Add some lemon—just a squeeze./Grandpa, cook them, please.
The illustrations, in rich watercolor hues, almost look like 3-D paper dolls and cutouts and add to the story’s overall feeling of warmth. There are no calamities in this house; no parents yelling, no kids fighting, no food bowls toppled over. Even the baby sleeps peacefully in her bassinet. Idealized? Yes. But even if your own family’s get-together doesn’t go as smoothly as this one, and your own homemade casserole doesn’t quite please everyone, this is a memorable story to share at the dinner table. It’s a feast for the eyes and ears.
The Little Kids’ Table, written by Mary Ann McCabe Riehle, illustrated by Mary Reaves Uhles
It’s Thanksgiving and for the kids in this story, that means mayhem isn’t far away. In fact, it’s no farther than the place the tots are invariably seated at — the little kids’ table. The tale — and mischief — begin shortly after the little ones arrive at their grandparents’ house. Banding together just like real cousins and siblings do, they set out to have a good time in their own special spot: Next to our forks we have spoons at our places./We try to get them to stick to our faces./First you breathe on the spoon, then press it on tight./It’ll hang from your nose if you do it just right.
Kids who delight in the gross side of eating — chewing with your mouth open, squirting milk out of your nose — will laugh all the way through this bright and boisterous book. Good or bad, they might get some new ideas for silliness at the holiday table.
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