Thanksgiving Books for Kids

A Turkey-Free Thanksgiving by Susan Fry

My husband and I are vegetarian.  So while we’re planning on a nice lasagna for Thanksgiving Day, everyone else we know is obsessed by turkeys.  Organic or free-range?  Brined or soaked?  And the discussions about whether to flip or not to flip, to tinfoil or not to tinfoil, well, they could go on until New Years.

So I can’t help but be surprised by how many kids’ books let the turkeys get away.  There’s a whole subgenre in which the diners have second thoughts, the turkeys outwit their pursuers, or having a turkey for dinner takes on a whole new, and much happier, meaning.  Perhaps these books are trying to convert meat-loving grandparents and reassure fans of Charlottes’s Web.  Or perhaps they’re just wishful thinking.  But whatever the reason, the books celebrate the fact that the holiday is about something more important than what’s for dinner.

Sometimes It’s Turkey, Sometimes It’s Feathers, by Lorna Balian.  This gentle book follows an old woman and her cat as they discover a turkey egg.  “We’ll hatch it and feed it and let it grow plump.  What a fine Thanksgiving dinner we will have.  Imagine!” Mrs. Gumm exclaims.  Children will be amazed at how much food it takes to help a baby bird grow into a full turkey — Mrs. Gumm will have to forgo strawberries, raspberry jam, and grape jelly.  When the day comes, she sharpens her hatchet and prepares a dinner full of goodies, then seats the turkey at the table next to the cat.  “I have so much to be thankful for,” said Mrs.Gumm.  “A Thanksgiving feast, and two good friends to share it with.  Imagine!”

Turkey Surprise, by Peggy Archer, illustrated by Thor Wickstrom.  Two pilgrim boys set off in the woods to bring back a turkey for Thanksgiving.  But the youngest brother is a little nervous about the plucking, stuffing, and cooking part of the dinner.  “Are you sure we want a turkey?” he asks his brother, as he sees a turkey trying to hide from them in a tree, a lake, and down a gopher hole.  “Is that all anyone has for Thanksgiving dinner?”  When his brother eventually admits that, no, there will also be corn, applesauce, and dessert, they cart a pumpkin home instead of the bird.

Run, Turkey, Run! by Diane Mayr, illustrated by Laura Rader.  It’s the day before Thanksgiving, “but Turkey won’t be giving thanks – not unless he manages to escape.”  Turkey tries to act like a pig, a duck, and a horse, but the farmer isn’t fooled.  Young children will enjoy the repetition and the sounds the farmer makes as he chases the turkey, which finally evades capture by masquerading as a tree.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.

You can check out the Sweet Peas & Stilettos’ children’s books page for quick access to all of Susan’s wonderful children’s book reviews.

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