Thanksgiving Favorites

Although I”m currently  not working in a school library, Thanksgiving week has brought to mind my favorite read-alouds for the holiday. Grandparents play an important role in each of these stories – and each story allows children and adults alike to remember and appreciate special moments with their grandparents.

Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey (Scholastic, 2005) by Joy Cowley and illustrated by Joe Capeda is a terrific story about a boy and his turkey – the one his father sent home to be Thanksgiving dinner. Miguel accepts the turkey his truck driver father sends home as one of the family.  The inevitable saving of Gracias, as Miguel dubs his pet, comes about in a most entertaining manner. The book liberally introduces Spanish vocabulary and paints a picture of a loving, Hispanic family and a close-knit community.  My students always loved this story and guessing the meaning of different Spanish words.

Turkey Pox (Albert Whitman, 1998) by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Dorothy Donohue,  features another unusual Thanksgiving when Charity comes down with the chicken pox and  can’t go to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving dinner. But Charity’s grandmother is not about to let  a few red dots ruin the holiday.  Early readers love this story and its amusing solution to Charity’s  problem.

My final favorite is The Thanksgiving Wish (Blue Sky Press, 1999) by Micheal J. Rosen and  illustrated by John Thompson. Amanda and her family make the annual trek to Bubbe’s house for the most  important holiday to her grandmother. But this year, Bubbe isn’t with the family and nothing goes right as they try to reproduce her traditional favorites. This story is my all time favorite to read with older elementary and middle school students. It helps bring into perspective what matters most in the world.

My wishes to everyone for a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with warmth, family and your own special holiday favorites.

Taking the Plunge

As a young child, I looked forward to the last day of my swimming lessons each year with a mixture of dread and fascination. Our community pool had a high-diving board, approximately 10 meters. Today it is rare to find a board so high at the local swimming pool, but liability issues weren’t such a consideration back then. The final day of lessons brought the opportunity for each child to jump from the high dive. I relished the prospect, in spite of my fears. On the last day of the session, I would carefully climb the ladder and inch toward the end of the board. Looking down 30 feet into the crystal water usually sent my heart into palpitations – but the lifeguards had a rule – if you decided to climb the ladder, the only way down was by jumping. I didn’t understand how patient the instructors were, treading water in the deep end and coaxing me to jump, until I became a lifeguard as a teenager and joined the annual ritual from their perspective.

And so, I’ve been taking my author lessons for awhile now, writing, selling manuscripts, and watching my first novel become a real, live book out there in the world.  But blogging has been my high dive. I’ve inched closer and closer by guest blogging with my author groups, commenting here and there on other blogs, and generally coaxing myself toward the precipice. I’ve been standing here for awhile, toes curled around the edge of the board, and it’s about time I close my eyes and jump.

Here I go – wheee!