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Nightstands & Coffee Tables: The Thanksgiving Eidtion

By Melanie Moffett
In Bayou Pages
Oct 26th, 2015

reviews by Michael Devault

The holidays are a busy time of year, and Thanksgiving comes with a particular set of demands. Not only is it the largest meal of the year for many individuals, it’s also a time when family comes together from across the area and around the world, gathers at one happy table and fellowships. Sadly, Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday, in the middle of a workweek, which adds that much more pressure to make each moment count. For many families, this is the only quality time they’ll have with the nieces, nephews and grandchildren, so we struggle to engage in quality interactions. So in honor of this Thanksgiving, we’ve chosen a trio of books that we think will help that aunt, uncle or grandpa settle down the kids and help them build a memory they’ll carry with them forever.

The Thanksgiving Story
By Alice Dagliesh (Ill. by Helen Sewell)

The Hopkins family is about to embark on an adventure. The father, mother and their three children are anxiously awaiting the moment when they can board the great ship that will carry them to the New World. Traveling with dozens of other families aboard the Mayflower and the Speedwell, the individuals hoped to build a new life. What happens on that voyage and in the months after would become the stuff of legend and history. This is the story Alice Dagliesh tells in her classic children’s novel, The Thanksgiving Story.

First published in 1954, Dagliesh’s book became an instant, timeless classic and was named a Caldicott Honor Book. The 1985 edition features bold, geometric illustrations by renowned artist Helen Sewell. Sewell’s illustrations become as vital to telling The Thanksgiving Story as Dagliesh’s clean, approachable prose. This is one children’s classic that’s sure to make its home in your family’s Turkey Day traditions.

Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving
By Dav Pilkey

For any child who’s ever wondered where the Thanksgiving turkey comes from, Dav Pilkey has the answer in the form of a wacky, offbeat and thoroughly entertaining tale, Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving. With the classic Moore poem as the framework, Pilkey’s book follows eight mischievous, excited children on a fieldtrip to a turkey farm. However, Thanksgiving plans everywhere may have to change after the children learn Farmer Nuggett’s plans for the turkeys–and proceed to release them all.

Illustrated in bold, simple watercolors, Pilkey’s pictures bring children onto the zany adventure and help them understand the world through Pilkey’s creative aping of a Christmas poem. But, be warned! Before the story is finished, your wee little ones may just decide themselves that they’re going to free the turkeys!

The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving
By Ann Mcgovern (Ill. by Elroy Freem)

In the world of iPad games and plasma screened football, sometimes we lose sight of what that first Thanksgiving was really all about for the men and women who came together to celebrate life in their new homes. This is the story that Ann Mcgovern captures in The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving, an honest and appropriate exploration of the trials faced by those early settlers. Mcgovern doesn’t shy away from the challenges the pilgrims face on the long voyage or with that first, harsh winter. Instead, her book builds the emotional base that, ultimately, gives every reader a deeper understanding of the importance of that first thanksgiving dinner–which lasted, as Mcgovern points out, three days.

Elroy Freem brings to Mcgovern’s story a series of illustrations that provide depth and honesty to the book. With the turbulent sea, readers will feel the pitch and roll of the boats. They’ll appreciate the comfort of a warm bed when they observe the pilgrim children huddled together in the boat. And once the pilgrims arrive, they’ll learn the importance of family and community, which will help ensure that your children’s Thanksgiving is just as meaningful as that first one so many centuries ago.