[review] Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules and Kathryn Mitter

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting author Jacqueline Jules at a D.C. Kidlit Book Club meeting. I was happy to learn that she had just published a multicultural picture book about food, Duck for Turkey Day (Albert Whitman, 2009). Naturally, I donned my largest bib after requesting a review copy.

Young Tuyet is worried about Thanksgiving because her family will be having duck for dinner instead of turkey. At school, the talk was all about Pilgrims, Native Americans, and turkey turkey turkey. Her mother seemed set on cooking duck, while her grandmother, who was visiting from New York just for the holiday, reminded her that they would be using her spicy duck recipe from Vietnam.

Thanksgiving morning, good smells filled the house, and that afternoon, Tuyet was excited at the arrival of her aunt, uncle, and cousins. But when she told them about the duck, even they were happy and excited with the menu. Didn’t anyone in her family know the “rules” about Thanksgiving? And what will her teacher and classmates say when they find out she didn’t have turkey?

In this sweet, heartwarming story, Tuyet discovers that Thanksgiving isn’t so much about what you eat, as long as you’re sharing it with family and friends. Much to her relief, she eventually learns that many of her classmates didn’t have turkey either — there is mention of noodles and chicken, tofu turkey, roast beef, lamb and enchilladas. Yum!

Kathryn Mitter’s deeply-hued acrylic illos capture all the fun and excitement of America’s most food-centric holiday with a refreshing Asian flavor. Especially love the spread of Saigon Market, where Tuyet, her mother and grandmother browse the colorful vegetables, different types of meats and jars of tantalizing ingredients, as well as the one of Tuyet’s family sitting around the table, raising their glasses in a toast.

Simply told, Duck for Turkey Day conveys a timely message about ethnic pride; the so-called “right way” to celebrate isn’t always the only way. In fact, the varied dishes enjoyed by Tuyet’s classmates may very well inspire families to try something different, regardless of their longstanding cultural traditions. So nice to see a multiethnic mix in Tuyet’s class, and Jules was able to make Tuyet’s concerns convincing with a satisfying resolution.

Since in this country we can never have too many books about embracing differences, Duck for Turkey Day would make a great addition to school and home libraries. One more thing to like: Tuyet’s teacher’s name is “Mrs. Cook!” ☺

** For more about Jackie’s books, visit her official website.

Duck for Turkey Day
by Jacqueline Jules,
illustrated by Kathryn Mitter
(Albert Whitman, 2009)
Picture book for ages 6-8, 32 pp.
Review copy provided by publisher.

Vit Quay, or Vietnamese Roast Duck (photo by Thanh H. Tran).

**Elaine Magliaro, the Queen of Seasonal Resources, has an amazingly comprehensive list of Thanksgiving books, activities, and reviews at Wild Rose Reader. Definitely something worth bookmarking!

*Spreads posted by permission, text copyright © 2009 Jacqueline Jules, illustrations © 2009 Kathryn Mitter, published by Albert Whitman. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2009 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved. 


12 thoughts on “[review] Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules and Kathryn Mitter

  1. This sounds like a really wonderful tale. My husband’s family sticks to a pretty traditional meal but we have both ham AND turkey because my SIL won’t eat poultry of any kind. So – no turkey for her, either! 🙂


  2. It’s always good to mix in a few quacks and oinks with those gobbles. Our family Thanksgivings usually included ham and turkey, too, plus a chicken for my grandmother, who, for some reason, didn’t like turkey.


  3. Tanita Says 🙂
    This is the CUTEST little book. We’re all such little opinionated people when we’re small — our grasp of The Rules is so tight that some of us have a hard time moving to the next level — I know tons of little kids who would FREAK if someone suggested to them that SOME PEOPLE don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, much less eat the meal of tradition. It’s so good to start discussing differences early, and this looks like a fun way.


  4. Thanks for posting a review of this. I just saw an ad for it yesterday and was wondering if it might be a good addition for the library. I need to get more Thanksgiving titles for next year.


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