In nearly thirteen years of married life, I have cooked exactly one turkey. Thursday will mark my second attempt. I say attempt because the first was a failure of significant proportions. We went to a local farm on the island we lived on and agreed to pay a pretty price for one of the turkeys trotting about the premises. Part of the agreement was that my husband and sons would get to come help kill the bird so our children would know that food doesn’t come from a freezer and we support a local economy, etc. Lofty goals…
The bird was slaughtered; defeathered and sent home with excited young eyeballs proud to call it our own. I had never cooked a turkey before so I just winged it (I’m so punny!)… thinking it would be hard to screw up. Well, I screwed it up. Birds that have room to roam are ipso facto leaner birds. The meat needed a little bit of TLC to get that famous “Butterball” taste I was used to. I didn’t really know what I was doing and we gnawed on tough meat with sacrificial spirits, rather than thankful ones… thinking about how much money we spent on this ‘quality’ ‘local’ meat. At least the pie was good…
But I digress. We’ve somehow managed to get invited elsewhere or visit family for most of our other Thanksgiving holidays and so I’ve no real experience in developing solid family traditions for this day. I am asked to please make sure Great-Grandma’s Sweet Potato Casserole gets made but everything else can pretty much come or go any given year. Perhaps that’s why I’m not particularly excited about Thanksgiving-themed picture books. I just don’t get really jazzed up about this holiday for some reason. I have precisely the books I want to have and am not really licking my chops hunting for the newer and better ones that I’m certain exist (google “Thanksgiving picture books” and you’ll get an eyeful if you want).
So, realizing there has been a void in Thanksgiving posts since I started this blog 3 years ago, I’ll share with you what I have and a brief bit about why I have them, just for my die-hard dozen of curious people. But know that this isn’t a comprehensive list of all great books out there for Turkey Day by any stretch of the imagination. I read these during the week prior to Thursday.
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving: This gives the story of Squanto obviously and I like having a first person focus for this story. It’s well done and offers a friendly bit of truth regarding Spanish Catholic monks that isn’t too common to see in secular history accounts.
The Thanksgiving Story: Tells the tale. The text is a tad lengthy but the art style is beautiful as to be expected. This is the “official story” book I go to. This year, I’m reading it over a couple days as part of our school’s morning basket.
Cranberry Thanksgiving: I love Cranberry-ville! This is fun and fresh and not focused on the history at all. Vintage… happy that Purple House Press brought these back in print.
Mousekins Thanksgiving: I wish Mousekin was back in print; he’s a Charlotte Masoner’s dream! This is a gentle tale, full of natural goodness typical of Mousekin and ends in a satisfying and sweet way that captures the ‘spirit’ of Thanksgiving generosity.
Three Young Pilgrims. For my younger children specifically to get a taste of history with the personal narrative to go with it. It’s colorful and engaging.
N.C. Wyeth’s Pilgrims: I bought this when we were studying N.C. Wyeth as an artist. The story is a faithful rendition of the original history but I really don’t make a point to read from this book so much as to just enjoy the pictures (Though the scene is picturesque and romanticized a bit, it’s still a good piece of Americana to get nostalgic about).
The Thanksgiving Door: Something off the beaten path a bit and full of Thanksgiving “spirit” again. I like to find tales that get a new angle on this holiday because there’s only so many books you can read about the history before your eyes blur over.
p.s. Regarding seasonal out of print books. If you don’t already know this, they are horrifyingly overpriced when it gets close to that season. Do not shop for OOP holiday books in the same month that the holiday is celebrated. I buy my OOP Christmas books no later than October and shake my head as prices skyrocket just weeks later… so you have to think ahead of the game a little bit.