cover image Giving Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday

Giving Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday

Denise Kiernan, illus. by Jamey Christoph. Philomel, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-593-40441-6

In the opening to this oddly contextualized look at the origins of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, children of varying cultural backgrounds, including Algonquin, French, and Korean, each give thanks in their native language. But a page turn suddenly shifts the focus to writer and activist Sarah Josepha Hale (1788–1879), portrayed in Christoph’s fluid pastel palettes serving a sumptuous turkey to her family. Though “different places celebrated thanksgivings at different times for different reasons,” Hale believed that a single Thanksgiving ought be celebrated on the same date nationwide. She wrote letters to various politicians, including five different presidents, until President Lincoln announced the national holiday. Kiernan’s disjointed, bucolic-leaning narration touches on traditional practices, including the yearly turkey pardoning and televised football games, but a lack of detail around the holiday’s problematic beginnings undercuts the limited historical telling. Resources providing further information conclude. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)