Thankful (Elaine Vickers)

Hello friends, and Happy Thanksgiving! Our book today is a special holiday treat: Thankful, written by Elaine Vickers and illustrated by Samantha Cotterill, a visually stunning tale of appreciation.

Every year, when the first snow falls, our unnamed child narrator has a special family tradition. They always make “thankful” paper chains to last through December, with each handwritten link expressing thanks for something the maker feels gratitude for. It can be hard to think of so many things, so the narrator explains that they like to start in their own room. They give thanks for a safe and warm home, loving parents, and the goodnight poem they repeat each bedtime. They are thankful for night and mornings, the moon and sun, and stars and candle to make wishes on. Soon our narrator is thinking of plenty of things to be thankful for, even as they grow too sleepy to continue the chain. Tucking into bed, the child expresses gratitude for what they are most thankful for: the wide, wonderful world outside.

A Thanksgiving feast for the eyes. While the text can read a little mature for a child’s voice, the sentiment of appreciating the little things in one’s life is always a welcome one. To that end, there are a few special moments that are particularly heartwarming, such as expressing thanks for a furry friend who comforts us when we’re scared, a teacher who shows patience and support, or the worlds of imagination that lie between the pages of books. But what truly elevates this title is the phenomenal artwork, comprised of illustrated characters placed within gorgeously-detailed miniature sets and then photographed. The play of focus, color, motion, and texture creates an incredible visual world filled with stunning detail, and each page is as striking as the last. The length is best for elementary-aged readers, and JJ loved the beautiful artwork. Well worth the read – a sweet and timeless message with a remarkable visual style. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Over The River And Through The Wood (Emma Randall)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Over The River And Through The Wood, a storybook version of the classic song as illustrated by Emma Randall.

A young pair of siblings, brother and sister, set off on a journey across a winter wonderland to grandmother’s house, as the song describes. The text/lyrics describe the pair’s destination, reason for the journey (it’s Thanksgiving Day), and their surroundings as they travel. Along the way, a collection of adorable woodland critters smile cheerfully at the children and follow their sleigh through the snowdrifts. Arriving at Grandmother’s House, everyone settles in for a delicious feast.

Very cute. A new spin on some classic text, which is laid out perfectly so that it can be read as rhyming stanzas or, for those familiar with the tune, sung (I was able to sing it for JJ and she was delighted). The illustrations feature bright and colorful human and animal characters against a beautiful backdrop of winter woods, and are engaging and warm. The length was great, and we enjoyed it. A great way to celebrate the traditional song in a fresh yet classic way. Baby Bookworm approved!

Duck And Hippo Give Thanks (Jonathan London)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Duck And Hippo Give Thanks, written by Jonathan London and illustrated by Andrew Joyner, a festive third installment of the series.

As he rakes the leaves in his yard into a tidy pile, Hippo dreams of a “good, old-fashioned”, Thanksgiving dinner. His musings are interrupted by the arrival of his friend Duck, entering by way of a leaf-pile cannonball – mussing up Hippo’s work. Though irked, Hippo quickly forgives his exuberant friend. They decide to spend the holiday together and invite all their friends to join. They then spend the day together, joyfully gathering supplies, inviting their pals, and preparing for the feast. The next evening, Hippo has set a table with a delicious, traditional Thanksgiving spread, when Duck and the other guests arrive with a surprise: lovingly homemade – but decidedly NON-traditional – dishes. Elephant is flummoxed; this is not the old-fashioned Thanksgiving he had pictured. But seeing that his friends’ hard work and well meaning, and happy to simply be spending time with them, he shakes off his rigidness. After all, traditions are only as good as the company we share them with.

Very sweet. As with Duck and Hippo’s previous stories, the plot is gentle and light. Yet this one subtly conveys a deeper meaning that I loved: don’t be too quick to dismiss what someone brings to the table simply because it’s different or new – a lesson as true of food as it is of life. This is served especially well alongside Joyner’s art, which has a vaguely nostalgic style, inspired by classic storybooks yet updated for a modern audience. The length was great, and JJ loved it too. A festive and quietly wise lesson in togetherness, and acceptance of others’ differences – sentiments perfect for reflection during a season of giving thanks. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Sarah Gives Thanks (Mike Allegra)

Hello friends, and Happy Thanksgiving! To celebrate, our book today is Sarah Gives Thanks, written by Mike Allegra and illustrated by David Gardner, the story of writer and “editress” Sarah Josepha Hale, who spent three decades campaigning for Thanksgiving to become a national holiday.

On Thanksgiving Of 1822, Sarah and her five children were solemn as they sat down to supper. They had just come from mourning their late husband and father David. To cheer her children up, Sarah asked them to share stories of David and why they had been thankful to have him in their lives. From this point on, Sarah – a determined, self-educated, passionate writer and poet – held a special place for Thanksgiving in her heart. As she rose from saleswoman to successfully publishing her poems and novels, eventually becoming a taste-making editor for two national women’s magazines, Sarah continued to campaign for Thanksgiving to celebrated nationwide. Persistent and stubborn, Sarah wrote editorials in her magazines and letters to five sitting Presidents. At last, hoping to bring some unity in the midst of the Civil War, President Lincoln agreed, and we have celebrated Thanksgiving as a nation ever since – all thanks to the indefatigable Sarah Hale.

This was such a pleasant surprise! I was expecting the story of how Thanksgiving become a national holiday, and in addition we got a lovely biography of a pioneer self-made female journalist who rose from humble beginnings to become a lifestyle luminary of her time. The illustrations do a wonderful job of bringing Sarah and the era she lived in to life, and while the length may be a bit much for smaller bookworms, JJ was very interested in the language of the text. This was a wonderful way to not only celebrate Thanksgiving, but also a strong female historical figure, and we loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Bear Says Thanks (Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman)

Hello, friends! We’re getting into the Thanksgiving spirit over here at The Baby Bookworm: today, we read Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman, a delightful and sweet tale from the pair’s beloved Bear series.

Bear wants to invite his friends over for a delicious feast to show them how much he appreciates them, but alas, his cupboard is completely bare! As he is bemoaning this, his friend Mouse shows up with a delicious pie to share, and Bear says “Thanks!” From there, more of Bear’s woodland pals show up, each bringing a delicious treat to share with the others. Bear thanks his guests kindly, but is overwhelmed – they have all been so generous to bring food, but he has nothing to offer the group in return. But Bear’s friends say no matter; Bear can provide them with stories and the pleasure of his company, which is all they require for their friendship feast.

We have yet to read a Bear book that we didn’t love, and this one was no exception. The familiar cadence of the rhyming text from previous installments is back, making it a bouncy and fun read-aloud. The story brings a few wonderful lessons about generosity, kindness, community, and the true meaning of friendship, leaving the reader with a warm heart by the final page. Chapman’s illustrations are as darling as ever, bringing personality and emotion to each character. The length is great, and JJ always adores Bear and his friends, as you can see! A fantastic read year-round, and especially during the season of togetherness, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!