Sunday, November 24, 2013

30 Days of Picture Books - The Thanksgiving Door by Debby Atwell

It's Day 17 in our 30 Days of Picture Books. Today I'd like to share a Thanksgiving title that's new to us this year. I often see -- and pin -- fantastic lists of holiday books, the kinds of lists that are overflowing with awesome choices. I rarely create lists like that, though, because I'm always trying to find holiday titles that are diverse or multicultural in nature. And if you've been reading my blog long, you know books like that are few and far between. So generally when we do a holiday feature, it has some diversity included - makes for a smaller but more impactful list, I think.

Today's book is one I've heard about for a couple of years now but hadn't had a chance to read. I'm so glad we made the effort to seek it out this Thanksgiving though, because it was simply charming. Debby Atwell's The Thanksgiving Door is unique in that the action starts on the front cover of the book - you really need to focus on what's happening there in order to have context for later events, but that's all the spoiler I'm giving you. :)

The story focuses on Ed and Ann, an elderly couple who are all alone for Thanksgiving. Ann accidentally burns their dinner, and it looks like the holiday is going to be ruined. But then Ed decides the couple is going out to eat (taking a page from The Christmas Story, our favorite holiday movie!). They decide to try a new restaurant in the neighborhood - at first they aren't sure the place is serving, but the door was open, so they venture in. Well, actually the family that runs the place was having their own dinner, and some members are a bit dismayed to see guests. But Grandmother believes that hospitality is essential, especially on the family's first holiday in America, so the family welcomes Ed and Ann. And it's a wonderful, if unexpected, Thanksgiving for all!

This is such a heartwarming story of acceptance and inclusion, just right for Thanksgiving. The folk art-infused illustrations definitely add to the classic feel of the story, which would be a good choice to share with preschoolers on up. I love that both parties -- Ed and Ann, and the family -- were uncertain about accepting the other, but overcame their fears and uncertainties and let down their guard. Ed and Ann experience aspects of the family's culture (Atwell never specifies where they are from, just "the old country", but I'm guessing Ukranian?). And the family learns new things too, such as when Ann teaches everyone the conga. Now that's what a holiday should be.

Make the time to seek out The Thanksgiving Door -- it's a colorful and upbeat title that captures the true spirit of giving that is central to this winter holiday!

The Thanksgiving Door by Debby Atwell, published by Houghton Mifflin

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