23 November 2016

Three Reads for Thanksgiving Eve

Quick, simple, yet heartfelt:

Molly's Pilgrim, Barbara Cohen
This almost-a-picture book is about Molly, whose family recently immigrated from Eastern Europe. The girls at school—the popular ones—make fun of her unfashionable clothing and her bad English, and Molly is also self-conscious of what her strict but fashionable teacher would think of her, or even worse, of her mother, who wears clothing from "the old country." Things come to a head when the children are asked to dress a clothespin as a Pilgrim for Thanksgiving. Fresh in her knowledge of the story, Molly is fearful when her mother says she will dress the clothespin—and her worst fears come true.

What is a Pilgrim? As Molly's mother so eloquently proves, it is not just a starched black-and-white separatist used as a decoration, a gentle lesson that should not be soon forgotten. Get the new edition with the Daniel Duffy illustrations!

A Pioneer Thanksgiving: A Story of Harvest Celebrations in 1841, Barbara Greenwood
This is Greenwood's followup to A Pioneer Story, a combination story and activity book which followed a year in the life of the pioneering Robertson family. Now the Scots-descent Robertsons, along with their German and First Nations neighbors (the setting is Canadian) harvest their crops and get ready for a harvest celebration/Thanksgiving as impulsive Sarah worries about her elderly Grandmother and in the process of trying to make her feel better, nearly gets her little sister Lizzie hurt. The story alternates chapters with things to do—making a corn dolly and a weathervane, mixing up some cranberry sauce, playing "conkers" with chestnuts, and more—and the native celebrations are touched upon as well. Illustrated with lovely pencil drawings. The original book (also called A Pioneer Sampler) is worth getting as well as a great look into pioneer days.

The Thanksgiving Treasure, Gail Rock
This is the novelization of the television special of the same name, a sequel to The House Without a Christmas Tree. Addie Mills is intrigued when her teacher Miss Thompson says during a  lesson that we should try to make friends of our enemies, since recently she and her dad ran into nasty old Mr. Rhenquist, who shorted James Mills a payment for digging out a pond for him. When Addie and her best friend Carla Mae go out collecting autumn plants for floral bouquet gifts, she scopes out his place and discovers he owns the one special thing Addie has always wanted: a horse. So Addie collects items from her own Thanksgiving dinner and takes them to the "cranky old goat." Rhenquist resents it at first, but then slowly begins to thaw.

 This is a lively and often funny and sometimes sentimental novel about the power of friendship. It differs from the television special in small ways (for instance Addie's best friend in the special is Cora Sue), but the story is pretty much the same with more details—about Addie's unconventional bicycle, her school friends, the bleak November Nebraska landscape, the period bits like the kids' Thanksgiving radio play and long underwear—with fabulous illustrations by Charles Gehm (the very last one is "nifty," as Addie might say). If you loved the special, the book will be just your cup of tea.

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