Each November I begin the search anew. I know what I’m looking for, and I really don’t think it’s too much to ask of a picture book:
- It must delve into the themes of generosity, abundance, gratitude.
- It should be beautiful. Compelling in its beauty, in fact.
- Ideally, I’d like it to celebrate our better angels, but also not fail to acknowledge the pricklier parts of our nature.
- It need not tell The Story/History…but again — generosity, abundance, gratitude! These are the Themes Of The Day!
What am I looking for? A Thanksgiving Book. There are plenty of Thanksgiving picture books out there, of course. They just aren’t the book I’m looking for. (If you have suggestions of other books that fit my criteria, please DO LET ME KNOW!)
But there is one…and it works every time. I’ve used it in story times, worship services, and holiday gatherings of adults and kids alike. It’s never shelved in the Thanksgiving holiday section — but it is absolutely about giving thanks.
What’s the book you ask? The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau, illustrated by Gail de Marcken. I’m just fresh off of reading it (again) to a group of parents and kids. I’ve been reading it for years now — often in November, but other times during the year, too. It never fails to satisfy.
When I read it publicly, I’m always a little nervous. The story is long. The pictures are astounding (and filled with clever puns and puzzles), but it’s hard to revel in the artistic detail when you’re reading to a big group. Will it work its magic this time? I wonder as I begin.
It does. Magical every time. Even the littlest ones sit entranced. There’s a greedy king and a firm but grace-filled quiltmaker. There are soldiers in their pajamas, a ferocious bear, and wee sparrows. There is beauty. Love. All of my Themes Of The Day are covered — generosity, abundance, and gratitude on every page! The art is gorgeous, the story thought provoking. There is nothing about feasting or about the sometimes conflicted history of the United States; yet it is a Thanksgiving story. I’m sure of it. Each year, my quest for The Perfect Thanksgiving Book ends with this book. Sure, I’d like a couple more to fall back on, but this one is rich enough to satisfy.
I am grateful for The Quiltmaker’s Gift. I’ve read it to countless wide-eyed children (including my own) over the years. They love it. They get it. Often the adults are a little misty-eyed at the end. I give extra-credit to picture books that speak to adults in a profound way, so this one gets an A+. Take a read this Thanksgiving — it’s a keeper.
(The prequel, The Quiltmaker’s Journey is also pretty good.)