What’s your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner?
Is it that steamy mound of creamy mashed potatoes, begging for a generous splash of savory gravy? Grandma’s candied sweet potatoes or Aunt Beverley’s green bean casserole? Maybe for you it’s all about the turkey itself with its golden brown crispy skin — moist when you slice into it, even better with cornbread stuffing and fresh cranberry sauce. Can’t forget the pies — homemade pumpkin or apple? Yes, please!
Safe to say, this traditional holiday meal wouldn’t be quite as delicious without all the sharing — the sharing of cooking, baking, and serving tasks, and of course, having family and friends sitting around the table to devour every last bite.
Pat Zietlow Miller’s delectable new picture book, Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story (Schwartz & Wade, 2015), invites us to step back into the 19th century to feast with a lively family of 10:
Mama, fetch the cooking pot.
Fetch our turkey-cooking pot.
Big and old and black and squat.
Mama, fetch the pot.
An enthusiastic young boy coaches each member of his family on a specific task: Mama prepares the turkey, Daddy tends the fire, Sister kneads the dough, Brother bastes the turkey, Grandpa boils the cranberries, Grandma bakes pumpkin pie, Auntie mashes potatoes, Uncle pours cider, and even Baby’s got a job — to “be a sleeping mouse.” With his brother and sister, the boy also makes paper pilgrim hat placemats, and when all is finally done, he calls everyone to the table. Yum!
Pat’s pitch perfect jaunty rhyming verse pulls the reader right into the middle of the action and captures the happy bustle, rising anticipation, fun and spirit of the holiday. Paired with Jill McElmurry’s charming gouache paintings that brim with captivating period detail, this heartwarming story is sure to become a perennial favorite.
Young readers will enjoy trying to identify the old-fashioned cooking utensils and watching how the family pulls off this well-orchestrated meal. There’s ample time to feel the roaring heat of the cast iron stove, watch the clouds of flour rise from the kneading table, smell the heavenly aromas of the different foods cooking, and keep a careful eye on the family dog and cat, who are every bit as anxious to taste the spoils.
Ultimately, this family feels like our family; Sharing the Bread serves up a nice continuity with the past. Good food, loving family, give thanks. Some things never change, as we remind ourselves that love is the best seasoning of all.
We will share the risen bread.
Our made-with-love Thanksgiving spread.
Grateful to be warm and fed.
We will share the bread.
I’m happy Pat is here today to tell us more and share a favorite Thanksgiving recipe. Take your place at the table and enjoy (save some cranberry sauce for me)!
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🍞 AUTHOR CHAT WITH PAT ZIETLOW MILLER 🍗
Why is Thanksgiving your favorite holiday?
It’s the food. I love all traditional Thanksgiving favorites – turkey and potatoes and stuffing and pumpkin pie.
And, it’s the relative lack of stress. Compared to Christmas, Thanksgiving is peaceful.
Please share a favorite Thanksgiving memory from your childhood.
My grandparents would come to my house for Thanksgiving dinner when I was a child. And, they always brought my brother and sister and me king-size bars of Hershey chocolate. I’m not sure how big the bars really were, but when I was a child they seemed IMMENSE. We’d break off pieces and eat for weeks.
Did you have the 19th century specifically in mind when you wrote this story? If so, how did that affect the way you crafted the rhyming text?
I did not. I just pictured an old-fashioned family. I was very glad Jill McElmurry and Schwartz & Wade nailed down the exact timeframe. And Jill did a ton of work to get the visual details just right.
Do you find rhyme easier or harder to write than prose for a picture book? Did you go through many drafts for this one?
I find rhyme to be much harder than prose. I’ve even been known to write myself notes that say. “No rhyming!” on manuscript ideas. But sometimes, like with this book, it happens anyway.
In this case, I was at work when two lines popped into my head:
Mama be a cooking pot, cooking pot.
Big and round and black and hot.
I think my initial reaction was, “What am I supposed to do with THIS?”
But, I typed them out and emailed them to myself at home and started playing around with them. Eventually, Mama stopped being a cooking pot and just had to find a pot.
I went through a lot of drafts of this one. It started out as a family cooking a regular, everyday dinner. Then, an editor who didn’t acquire the piece suggested that it needed a stronger hook to give it shelf space. Maybe they made a holiday meal, she suggested?
So I rewrote it around Thanksgiving, finding out along the way that there’s not much that rhymes with turkey. Or cranberries. Anne Schwartz of Schwartz & Wade was very helpful shepherding me through the revision process.
What do you like most about Jill McElmurry’s illustrations? Do you have a favorite spread?
I love how she shows the family bustling around the kitchen and how their aprons get dirtier and dirtier as you turn the pages. But then, when it’s time to eat, they take off the aprons, put on a few fancier jackets and bows and sit down at the table.
My favorite spread is when the whole family is sitting around the table holding hands and saying grace.
Does your family all pitch in to make Thanksgiving dinner like the characters in the book? Have there been any kitchen disasters to speak of or any especially memorable triumphs?
We each have our own thing. My brother makes the classic green-bean casserole. I make a mushroom dish. My mom is the queen of pie-baking – apple and pumpkin – and my sister and her family have made a variety of salads and stuffing.
We haven’t had any disasters I can recall. My mom keeps things on track and usually is in charge of the turkey. One year, I made the pies and the crusts were too salty, but they were edible. (I mean, really, it was still PIE!) And, another year, I made homemade cranberry sauce only to learn some family members strongly preferred the canned variety.
As for the triumphs, every year we can sit down happy and healthy and together is a triumph.
Plus, Thanksgiving leftovers are also a triumph. Yum.
What are your favorite side dishes and desserts? Please share your favorite Thanksgiving recipe.
My favorite side dish is the potatoes – mashed or riced. My side of the family rices the potatoes using a contraption called a potato ricer that many people have never heard of. My husband’s family mashes them. I like them both ways.
My favorite recipe is the mushroom casserole I make every year. It’s a great recipe because it can be adjusted endless ways. So it never turns out the same way twice, but it always tastes good.
- 2 pounds fresh, whole mushrooms
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine
- 4 beef bouillon cubes
- 1 cup hot water
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup half and half
- Dash of salt
- Dash of pepper
- 1 to 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup bread crumbs or stuffing
- Soy sauce to taste
Clean mushrooms and slice off ends. Place in a buttered two-quart casserole. Set aside.
Melt butter and bouillon cubes in hot water. Blend in flour, half and half, salt and pepper and soy sauce. Pour over mushrooms. Mix cheese and bread crumbs or stuffing; add to mushrooms and toss gently. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.
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SHARING THE BREAD: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story
written by Pat Zietlow Miller
illustrated by Jill McElmurry
published by Schwartz & Wade Books, September 2015
Picture Book for ages 4-8, 32 pp.
**Starred Review from Publishers Weekly**
♥ Cruise over to Curious City for a Read Aloud and Food Drive Activity Kit, and Thanksgiving Place Card Craft!
🍴SPECIAL BOOK GIVEAWAY 🍴
For a chance to win a brand new copy of Sharing the Bread, please leave a comment at this post telling us what your favorite Thanksgiving side dish is no later than midnight (EDT) Wednesday, October 14, 2015. You may also enter by sending an email with “BREAD” in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Winner will be announced on Friday, October 16. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good Luck!
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WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
Check out this wonderful interview with Pat and illustrator Jill McElmurry at Picture Book Builders. Leave a comment there for another chance to win a copy of this scrumptious book!
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THE WINNER OF LAST WEEK’S 🐝 FLUTTER & HUM🐢 GIVEAWAY
♥ CATHERINE AT READING TO THE CORE!! ♥
🎉 CONGRATULATIONS, CATHERINE!! 🎈
Please send me your snail mail address so we can get the book out to you pronto.
Thanks, Everyone, for all your wonderful comments!
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Laura Purdie Salas is hosting today’s Roundup at Writing the World for Kids. Take her a turkey drumstick and a piece of pumpkin pie, and check out the full menu of tasty poetic goodies on this week’s menu.
This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best aprons and bibs, and come join the fun!
*Interior spreads from Sharing the Bread posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2015 Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrations © 2015 Jill McElmurry, published by Schwartz & Wade Books. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.