Dear Tribune Readers • I love Halloween. I love Christmas. I also love that one holiday that comes between them. You know which one I mean. Gah! I can’t remember what it’s called at the moment because the sound of Mariah Carey singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” on the radio has taken my brain hostage.
What’s that holiday called?
Come on. Help a girl out here. I’m talking about the holiday that gets kicked to the curb by Christmas every year. You know. The Rodney Dangerfield of holidays. The forgotten holiday. The holiday where mashed potatoes and a dead turkey are heavily involved.
WHAT IS IT?!
Oh. That’s right. Thanksgiving! I’m talking about Thanksgiving.
OK. I do think it’s a shame that Thanksgiving gets sidelined as much as it does. Next to the Fourth of July, it’s the quintessential American holiday, right? Doesn’t matter if you’re Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan, agnostic or atheist. If you’re an American, you probably celebrate Thanksgiving — which is why I’m taking this opportunity to suggest a few new Thanksgiving-themed books for children and the adults who love them.
‘Over the River and Through the Wood,’ illustrated by Emma Randall
There are plenty of illustrated versions of this classic verse already out there. Do we really need another one this season? Sure. Why not? The more the merrier, I always say, which is what I also say about new versions of “The Night Before Christmas,” too. And I do particularly like Randall’s use of bold, bright colors as she depicts the journey of two children (in a sleigh, obv) through a forest full of friendly woodland creatures.
‘Fangsgiving,’ written and illustrated by Ethan Long
This new picture book about Vlad the Vampire, whose extended family shows up unexpectedly for Thanksgiving dinner, is full of the kind of mildly gross details — think mashed potato flavored with eyeballs and earwax, for example — that some kids (i.e., my grandchildren) enjoy. Still, there’s a sweetness about the underlying message: Family is family is family, and while family members can drive you crazy, it’s pretty nice to have them around.
‘The Thank You Book,’ by Mary Lyn Ray and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
“Thank you isn’t just for learning manners. It’s also for when something wakes a little hum — a happy little hum — inside you and you want to answer back.” While this new little book doesn’t specifically focus on the holiday of Thanksgiving, it does celebrate the fine art of expressing gratitude for all the small things woven into the fabric of our lives. The illustrations of children and animals are charming, and the language is lovely.
There are a few old favorites worth mentioning, too.
‘The Thankful Book’ by Todd Parr
With their stick figures and splotches of primary colors, Todd Parr’s books look like the work of a precocious preschooler. Still, there’s something oddly appealing about them. “The Thankful Book” is only tangentially about Thanksgiving (there is a picture of a turkey). But still. It lists the kinds of things very young children are grateful for —pets, bubble baths, walks with parents.
‘The Great Thanksgiving Escape’ by Mark Fearing
Yup. This book about two young cousins determined to create some holiday fun of their own away from the stifling atmosphere of TOO MANY PEOPLE is my favorite Thanksgiving picture book ever. Trust me. After reading this book, you will never look at a roomful of your aunts in the same way again.
Well. There you have it. A few suggestions for the kids. Meanwhile, let me thank YOU, dear Tribune Readers, for your questions and also for your comments. It’s always a good thing to have a couple of different takes on the same situation.