Saturday, November 22, 2008


THE BAREFOOT BOOK OF BLESSINGS FROM MANY FAITHS AND CULTURES compiled by Sabrina Dearborn, illustrated by Olwyn Whelan (Barefoot Books)
Here is a book you can bring to the Thanksgiving table, and each member of the family can take a turn sharing a page! This diverse collection of blessings all express an attitude of gratitude, and remind the reader of the magnanimity of the world. Eighteen blessings celebrate occasions that might occur in a day or in a lifetime, from the bounty that is a meal or a harvest ("Give thanks to the Mother Earth./Give thanks to the Father Sun./Give thanks to the plants in the garden/Where the mother and father are one." - Steiner) to blessings for a journey that will touch the hearts of far-flung guests ("May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back./May the sun shine warm upon your face..." - traditional Irish) to blessings for bedtime ("Great Owl of Dreams,/Wings soft and furred with dark,/Soar through my sleep/To that tender place between the eyes and heart..." - from "Celebrating the Great Mother") and general wishes for the future ("May you have success in all endeavors./May you have peace and health in the four seasons./May your happiness be as wide as the sea/May all your comings and goings be peaceful." - traditional Chinese). All conspire to create an overall feeling of general goodwill, gentleness and positivity. Colorful, detailed artwork gilded in bronze and featuring multicultural figures is clearly influenced by the work of Jane Ray. Pair this with Kay Chorao's BOOK OF GIVING and celebrate all that you have to be grateful for as a family, and the great blessing of being together, reading aloud. (6 and up)

Also of interest:
WISH: WISHING TRADITIONS AROUND THE WORLD by Roseanne Thong, illustrated by Elisa Kleven (Chronicle) This Thanksgiving, the wishbone isn't the only opportunity to have a wish come true! This title is a world tour of the ways different cultures send their desires out into the ethers. In Guatemala, did you know children send their wishes up on kites, while in India, a lucky peacock feather holds their wishes for success in school between the pages of their notebooks? In Brazil, children on beaches jump seven waves, and in Thailand, they send their wishes off on lovely handmade boats. And the Zulus of South Africa send their wishes off on the tail of an animal! With so many traditions offered, it is easy to find one to adapt within your own family, or to inspire a young reader to find ever-new opportunities to hope. Folks who enjoyed the interesting and useful THROW YOUR TOOTH ON THE ROOF: TOOTH TRADITIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD by Selby Beeler, illustrated by G. Brian Karas (Houghton Mifflin) will appreciate the concept here as well, and as always, Elisa Kleven's artwork glows, with jeweled landscapes that evoke each setting uniquely, populated with dancing, exuberant figures of all races and ages, and a gumdrop-colored palette that is a joy to the eye. (7 and up)

People celebrating at Loi Krathong Festival, held during November in Thailand,
in which bad luck is carried away so that good wishes can come true.

SOMETIMES IT'S TURKEY, SOMETIMES IT'S FEATHERS by Lorna and Lecia Bailan (Star Bright) Hopefully, many will recognize and be excited to revisit this hilarious classic first published in 1973, about a woman who ends up having a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner as an invited guest. I think Lorna Balian has made a significant contribution to the world of children's books through her holiday offerings, which are consistently clever and often hilarious. This title is top bird, and always manages to be a highlight of any seasonal storytime.

ONE IS A FEAST FOR MOUSE: A THANKSGIVING TALE by Judy Cox, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler (Holiday House) In the beginning, our mousie friend tends toward moderate tastes, figuring a single pea will make for a mighty meal. But in the spirit of the season, who can resist a cranberry? Or a few crunchy carrots? What harm could a few olives do? And what's Thanksgiving without at least a sliver of pumpkin pie, some mashed potatoes (and gravy, certainly!) and...of course...some turkey? As the pile on the plate grows ever higher, it catches the eye of the family cat, who thinks our hero might make the best meal of all. Anyone who has ever had to loosen a belt at the end of a meal will empathize with this funny little mouse's best laid plans, but best of all, this slapstick story leaves us with a lesson that is easy to digest: make the best of whatever you have, and you'll find that it is enough. (4 and up)

Also, who likes leftovers? Check out more Thanksgiving picks in the PlanetEsme archive, where titles only get tastier with time.

On a personal note:
It was nice reading words of gratefulness for everyday things in these books. I know I am so grateful that someone took the time to teach me to read. Chris, my first grade teacher, who took dictation for my many stories on construction paper...thank you! Mom, who came to read aloud a short story about crossing the street for the first time to my whole class, who bought me every Beverly Cleary title as soon as it came out and showed me William Steig's cartoons in The New Yorker, and Dad, who read aloud Huckleberry Finn and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator using all different voices...thank you! To Mrs. Schultz, my fifth grade teacher, who told me to take home the complete set of Great Books and not tell any one...thank you! To my Uncle Dave, who gave me all of his childhood Dennis the Menace comic books for keeps...thank you! To my husband, who read aloud to me ( YOU CAN'T WIN: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JACK BLACK ) during the whole ride to New Orleans...thank you! To my son, who learned to read using Johanna Hurwitz's books, who looked at his first library card as if it were a million dollar bill, who read aloud ABE LINCOLN: BOY WHO LOVED BOOKS with expression to his whole second grade class when I was too stuffed-up to do it, who still reads every night and recommends books to me and makes me understand how reading is a legacy...thank you! To all the children I have taught, who sounded out words when it was hard and chose books because they wanted to and did all the art to make our reading spaces so beautiful...thank you! Thank you to all the authors and illustrators who, miraculously, make everything new and new and new again, and thank you to all who publish and read my books and visit my Bookroom and website, and make my working life a story. So much to be grateful for! Does anyone have any words of thanks for favorite books, for reading together, for literacy? Please feel free to share them in the comments section! It feels good.

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Burgin Streetman said...

thanks for awesome gals like you keeping the flame burning!

teacherninja said...

Thank YOU for all of these amazing and lovely posts.

Bill said...

One is a Feast For Mouse has been a big hit in THE PIT although we're still trying to figure out how all of that food will fit in the hidey-hole!

Mary Lee said...

Thank you, Mom, for never refusing to buy me a book and never censoring my reading.

Kimmi said...

I truly enjoyed visiting your blog! So much so I'm adding you to blogs that I follow!!!!! Keep up the awesome work :)


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