five helpings of gratitude

a fine dessert illustration by sophie blackall

We’re gearing up for American Thanksgiving this Thursday, so today’s five are focused on gratitude. There are lots more Thanksgiving titles in the Subject Index under Holidays.

thankful cover imageThankful, by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Archie Preston
published in 2015 by Zonderkidz

This first title is a breezy, cheerful catalogue of folks busy about different jobs — waitresses, dancers, doctors, beekeepers — and what they are thankful for in particular.

That’s everything from afternoon tea to the green sprouts in the garden.

thankful illustration archie preston

The brief, rhyming text is accompanied by carefree, sunny illustrations of a brother and sister play-acting all these different roles. There’s no diversity here, unfortunately, but it’s a playful happy world for ages Under-Two and up.

how many days to america cover imageHow Many Days to America?: A Thanksgiving Story, by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Beth Peck
published in 1988 by Clarion Books

This decades-old story has poignant new relevance this year as it traces the harrowing flight of a group of refugees towards peace.

Fleeing from an ominous threat of soldiers, a family of four hurries out in the night. Secrecy, fear, an overcrowded boat, a journey that becomes a miserable ordeal, and finally the welcome arms of strangers. As it happens, they’ve arrived in America on Thanksgiving Day. Clearly the giving of thanks for safety in a new land has double meaning for this particular dinner party.

how many days to america illustration beth peck

Beth Peck’s beautiful illustrations portray these seekers handsomely, with dignity, throughout their plight. Their country of origin remains unnamed which nicely keeps the story ever-timely.  Ages 4 and up.

the thanksgiving door cover imageThe Thanksgiving Door, written and illustrated by Debby Atwell
published in 2003 by Houghton Mifflin

Here’s another story of welcoming.

Ed and Ann are alone for Thanksgiving this year and unfortunately, Ann has just the thanksgiving door illustration debby atwellmajorly burned their dinner. 

With black smoke curling up from the oven (my smoke detector would be shrilling off at this point) Ed suggests they try the little restaurant down the street. The doors are open, and a long Thanksgiving-looking table has been set, so all seems well.

What they don’t see is the ruckus they’ve caused in the back kitchen as the restaurant owners, an extended family of Russian immigrants, debates what to do about these folks who have wandered into their private family gathering.

the thanksgiving door illustration debby atwell

Leave it to Grandmother to set everybody straight and extend an Old World welcome in this New World. It’s a lovely, warm story with Atwell’s equally warm, primitive-style illustrations. Ages 3 and up.

gracias thanks cover imageGracias = Thanks, by Pat Mora, illustrations by John Parra
published in 2009 by Lee & Low

What are you thankful for?

The little boy in this book describes the many pieces of his life that make him thankful, such as the ladybug that landed on my finger, a little red flying surprise, and his Abuelita, who always winks and gives me a dollar when nobody’s looking. The text is in both Spanish and English.

gracias thanks interior mora and parra

John Parra’s bold, colorful paintings have a distinct Hispanic-mural quality to them. The vivid pages create an exuberant tone for the brief text. A happy choice for ages 2 and up.

thank you and good night cover imageThank You and Good Night, written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
published in 2015 by Little Brown and Company

Clement, Jean and Alan Alexander are three little stuffed animals belonging to Maggie. Tonight is a very special night because they are having a lovely pajama party!

Dancing and games, yoga and goodies, then it’s time for brushing teeth and a bedtime story. Maggie is a whiz at organizing one swell party and tucking her tired peeps into bed.

thank you and good night interior patrick mcdonnell

The last moments of the day are for talking about what they’re each thankful for. It’s quite a happy little list and such a peace-inducing way to fall asleep.

Darling and tender, with charming illustrations of this little crew that will steal your heart. References to Goodnight Moon are scattered among the pictures, which observant eyes will notice, as well as a few other classic storybook characters. It’s a clear winner, a lovely bedtime read, for ages Under-Two and up.