"To be a human being is an honor, and we offer thanksgiving for all the gifts of life." ~ Chief Jake Swamp, Giving Thanks
Come, ye hungry people, come!
Lots of room at the alphabet soup table, so please take a seat and make yourself at home. Since this is a rather large feast, thought we’d serve Part One today and Part Two tomorrow.
The bread basket is brimming with warm and flaky crescent rolls, freshly baked cranberry nut loaf, challah, and fried chapatis and pupusas. The golden brown turkey is just about ready to be carved, and all your favorite side dishes are here: fluffy mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, sausage apple stuffing, green bean casserole with fried onion topping, cranberry relish, candied sweet potatoes, creamed onions, roasted butternut squash, and glazed parsnips. And we’ll throw in some friendly cornbread in honor of the Native Americans, who taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn.
Since we believe in food for the body, mind, and spirit here at alphabet soup, we’re also serving up a bounty of well seasoned picture books featuring traditional Thanksgiving foods. Depending on how you look at them, these books can either be side or main dishes. Most are satisfying meals in and of themselves, and their unforgettable flavors will stay with you long after the last page is turned. A little humor, a little math, a folktale or two, and something bilingual — all part of our Turkey Day buffet, laid out especially for you.
Let’s begin by Giving Thanks, Native American style. After all, they kept the first colonists from starving upon arriving in the New World, by teaching them how to hunt, fish, gather and grow their own food.
GIVING THANKS: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp, pictures by Erwin Printup, Jr. (Lee & Low, 1995). This beautiful prayer-poem, "based on the Thanksgiving Address, an ancient message of peace and appreciation of Mother Earth and all her inhabitants," originates from the Iroquois or Six Nations. These inspirational words are spoken at ceremonial gatherings, and also taught to children so they can greet the world each morning by saying thank you to nature and all living things — the sun, moon, stars, grasses, animals, forests, lakes and wind. A daily expression of gratitude could very well promote peace, unity, and understanding among the diverse peoples of the world, reminding us we are all part of one large family. Entire text in Mohawk language is included. (Nice review at a wrung sponge.)
Okay, let’s EAT!
TURKEY POX by Laurie Halse Anderson, pictures by Dorothy Donohue (Albert Whitman, 1996). Now, what would happen if you’re all set to drive over to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving with a carload of side dishes, your cousin Fred and Aunt Imogene, and you come down with chicken pox? Poor Charity! Grandma’s roast turkey is her favorite dish, and now, all because of her, the family is stuck at home. And it’s begun to snow. What good is apple salad, brussels sprouts with walnuts, sweet potatoes and crescent rolls without the turkey? But thanks to four hungry snowplow drivers, Grandma arrives and Thanksgiving is saved! And wait till you see her spotted turkey! The quirky watercolor illos, replete with dots and spots on clothing, furniture, and walls, extend the humor of this lively family story, and may even make you itch for a second
MRS. McNOSH AND THE GREAT BIG SQUASH by Sarah Weeks, pictures by Nadine Bernard Westcott (HarperCollins, 2000). A funny, outrageous rhyming story about the resourceful Mrs. McNosh, who upon growing a humongous squash, must figure out what to do with it once she picks it. Littlest munchkins will giggle over the squash that at first resembles the paperboy, then flattens the cat, and soon smashes through the fence. Lively watercolor illos capture all the merry mayhem. For steadily growing appetites and fertile imaginations.
ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO by Cynthia DeFelice, pictures by Andrea U’Ren (FSG, 2006). An adapted folktale with an Irish twist about a very poor elderly couple who must share everything — one bed, one ratty blanket, one winter coat, one chair, and for food, just one potato each day. Yet all either longed for was a friend — she wanted someone to share recipes and sweet memories with, and he longed for someone with whom he could discuss potato weevils and root rot.
One day, Mr. O’Grady accidentally discovers a big black pot in his garden while digging up the very last potato. The pot has magical powers; it can double anything placed within it! Soon, the O’Gradys have two blankets, two coats, a set of hairpins, and an entire sack of potatoes. But the most magical thing of all is what happens after Mrs. O’Grady accidentally falls into the pot: true hearts’ desire followed by an inspiring act of generosity. A warm and humbling tale that’ll likely make young readers appreciate what they have and re-evaluate what they think they want.
HOW MANY SEEDS IN A PUMPKIN? by Margaret McNamara, pictures by G. Brian Karas (Schwartz & Wade, 2007). One day, Mr. Tiffin brings three pumpkins to class (small, medium and large), and asks his students to guess which has the most seeds. Robert, the tallest student, is sure the largest one has the most seeds, a least a million. Elinor, who always seems to know what she’s talking about, guesses the medium pumpkin would have five hundred seeds. Charlie, the shortest in the class, doesn’t have a guess, though Anna, who likes even numbers, estimates 22.
The students are quite surprised at what they discover after scooping out all the seeds and counting them. This thoroughly engaging, delightful story works on several levels — a great seasonal book, a counting book, and a wonderful school story with a reassuring message about physical size (hooray for Charlie!). Karas’s charming gouache, acrylic and pencil illos capture all the fun and busyness of the class project and will make kids want to grow their own pumpkins and then count the seeds. Includes a list of Charlie’s Pumpkin Facts and A Note from Mr. Tiffin. Love this one!
Care for more sweet potatoes?
EVERYBODY BAKES BREAD by Norah Dooley, pictures by Peter J. Thornton (Carolrhoda Books, Inc., 1996). A rainy Saturday, and Carrie’s kickball plans are ruined. She’s helping her mom make Grandmother’s Italian bread with her younger brother Anthony, who is getting on her nerves. To keep the peace, Carrie’s mom sends her on a fool’s errand to borrow a three-handled rolling pin from one of their neighbors. Carrie soon discovers that everyone she visits is busy baking bread, and they all invite her in for a chat and a sample of homebaked goodness.
Since Carrie lives in a multiethnic neighborhood, the variety of breads makes for an especially interesting morning — luscious Barbadian Coconut Bread at Mrs. Ambrose’s, Indian Chapati at Rajit’s, buttery Southern Cornbread at Mark’s house, Pocket Bread at Nabil and Amalia’s (they live above a restaurant and bakery!), Challah at Mrs. Max’s, Salvadoran Pupusas at Bernardo’s. Of course, all these breads are doubly delicious, since they are so generously shared by welcoming friends. Bread recipes included! Yum :9!
FOOD AND RECIPES OF THE PILGRIMS by George Erdosh (PowerKids Press, 1997). A clear, straightforward overview of the Pilgrims’ early years in America, which describes how the Native Americans taught them to grow and prepare various foods. It includes a short chapter about the first Thanksgiving, when the grateful English settlers invited their Native American friends to a great feast lasting three days. Besides the harvested corn and pumpkins, they ate "wild ducks, geese, turkeys, cornbread, wild plums, nuts, and berries." Easy recipes for Baked Butternut Squash, New England Mashed Turnips, and Pilgrims’ Honey Apples are presented alongside chapters describing basic cooking and baking methods. A good nonfiction title offering basic information with photo illustrations.
This looks like a good time to let our food settle a little, so we can make room for seconds. And we still haven’t had any pie! We’ll save your place at the table for when you come back for more of our Thanksgiving Feast tomorrow. We’ll keep everything warm, and won’t mind a bit if you decide to take a little nap. You might want to wipe that drop of gravy from your chin, though.
♥ Stay tuned for Part Two of The Gigantic Mouth-waterin’, Lip-smackin’ Thanksgiving Picture Book Feast!
♥ This post is brought to you by FOOD and FAMILY.
*Vintage postcards in this post from bulldoggrrl’s flickr photostream.
Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.