The Perfect Thanksgiving

Last updated Friday, November 4, 2005

Author: Eileen Spinelli
Date of Publication:
ISBN: 0805065318
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Nov. 2005

Synopsis: In this tale of two Thanksgivings, a young girl compares her own family's chaotic and less-than-genteel holiday celebration with that of another family, which "is perfect in every way." At that house, "Abigail Archer's father/serves white meat all around./Everyone takes dainty bites,/and no one makes a sound," while at her own home, "My grandpa chews the gizzards./My brother chomps the wings./My sister slurps. My uncle burps./And Aunt Clarissa sings." The jaunty, rhyming text continues to reveal the many contrasts between the two clans, until the final page, when the narrator points out one important similarity, highlighting "-just how loving/our different families are." Combining gouache, colored pencil, and collage, the mixed-media artwork extends the humor of the story. The child-friendly tone is set on the title page, which shows a close-up of the girl's arms, one hand tracing the other with a crayon. The resulting hand turkey, finished off with feathers and features, runs through the pages, taking part in the action and making sly comments. Whether reflecting the serenity at one household or the chaos at the other, the vivid double-page artwork is filled with action and energy. Colorfully clothed characters, vibrant backgrounds, and almost touchable textures make each page fresh and appealing. Filled with warm humor and taking a fresh approach, this title is the perfect antidote to ho-hum holiday books.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Look at the cover: what differences/similarities do you notice between the two turkeys?
•  Is one better than the other? Why?
•  What is Thanksgiving at your house like? What about other celebrations?
•  Do you ever feel like one of your friend?s family is better than yours? Why? How does this make you feel?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What does Abigail?s family do on Thanksgiving?
•  How are their two moms different? How are they the same?
•  What things do the narrator?s family do at the dinner table?
•  At the end of the book, what does a ?love rating? mean?
•  In the end, how are the two families really alike?
•  How is your family like Abigail?s family? How is your family like the narrator?s family? How are they different?
•  Do you need to have a perfect Thanksgiving?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a turkey out of construction paper that has paper feathers by tracing your hand as in the book. Make them big enough so that the kids can write things about their family on the feathers. Bring ahead option: googly eyes.
•  Make a frame out of construction paper by cutting out a shape with a large hole in the middle, and gluing the top to a similar shaped backing. Decorate the frame, and then draw a picture of your family celebrating your favorite holiday to put in the frame.

Special activities:
•  If your group were to design the best holiday ever, what would it be like? Brainstorm!

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!