Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Book Review

I have been reading Eliana some Thanksgiving books this month, so I thought I'd share the ones I've chosen and what I do or don't like about them. =D We have 3 that are specifically Thanksgiving related...

Over the River and Through the Woods by Lydia Maria Child. Illustrated by Christopher Manson.

I like this Thanksgiving poem. Until recently, I always thought that this was a Christmas song. Ha ha! I guess I'd never really paid attention to the words, though, because it is definitely a Thanksgiving poem! There are several books containing this poem, but I am a fan of the wood engraving style images instead of the cartoony images. I also really like that the music for the song is included at the end of the book. That makes it easier to teach the song to your kids, I think!

P is for Pilgrim by Carol Crane. Illustrated by Helle Urban.

I originally bought this book because it seemed similar to S is for Star, which I like so much for Christmas. I like how this book starts out, with the Mayflower (Across the Atlantic Sea...), the Bill of Rights, Corn... It all seems to be going well until J, when you suddenly get a picture of midwestern women in sweatshirts over turtlenecks, hair pulled back in pony tails, trading jars of jam. It's a sudden jolt of modernity before returning to the 1600s with K on the next page. There are a few pages like that where it seems like they couldn't come up with a good "pilgrim" word to go with the letter, so they just picked something random and autumn related instead. Even for P - unlike the title, the letter P in the actual book is for "pumpkin pudding, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin spicy pies." Other letters that seem out of place (not necessarily bad, just out of place for a Thanksgiving book) are R ("all races in our republic respect each other's rights and responsibility"), U ("a universal umbrella of nations..." about the United Nations), and V ("viva, volunteers! A very special day, the soup kitchen is ready to serve.") Like I said, not necessarily bad things, just strange to include in a Thanksgiving book, or a stretch for that particular letter. I can see the soup kitchen serving Thanksgiving meal included, but "Viva, Volunteers!"? It seems odd to me. The same is true with Z, which is about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. "Zippy bands zigzagging down the street. Zebras trotting, zeppelin-like balloons afloat." There's a picture of a pilgrim kid in a parade riding a zebra. It just seems like kind of a stretch.

It also bothers me that some of the pages rhyme well, and others just seem a jumble of alliteration, with no concern for rhyme or meter.

Overall, this book is fine. There are some good tidbits throughout that are fun for kids. Most of the illustrations are pretty good. I don't feel like it's a very fluid book, though, with the jolts from past to present and the inconsistencies between alliteration and rhyme scheme from page to page. Like I said, it's fine. But when I read it, I'm always tempted to skip a few letters because they bother me.

Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey

This is probably my favorite book for Thanksgiving this year. I first saw it last year at Thanksgiving with Leif's family, so I ordered a copy for our family this year. I like a LOT of things about this book. The illustrations are beautiful. A large portion of the book is dedicated to the story of the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. As far as I can tell, it's fairly historically accurate. The story is written in such a way that there is large text and small text. They both flow together, or, for younger kids, you can read just the large text for a shorter version of the story. I like that you can read it to younger kids in segments and the story hold their attention. It doesn't, however, sugar coat the details like most children's books do, and it doesn't use child like language. I actually like that about the book, but some people may not. It is written from a distinctly Christian perspective. I like that once Eliana is old enough for the full story, we can still use this book with the large and small text together.

Toward the end of the book there are quite a few pages for us to record our own stories of thankfulness God's blessings. We started today by writing down the things that each of us are thankful for (even Eliana, who, at 3, says she is thankful for "my slide, and my swings, and my rings, and and my beautiful princess kitty!") which also jump started our conversation at the meal and gave us an opportunity to explain to Eliana why we celebrate Thanksgiving.

The final thing that I like about this book is the CD that is included. It contains instrumental hymns of Thanksgiving that are great to listen to during the season!

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