How Many Days to America: A Thanksgiving Story by Eve Bunting can be considered realistic fiction or historical fiction. This picture book illustrates the challenges faced by a family that immigrates to the United States in search of freedom. The specifics of the setting, the times and the characters’ names are intentionally vague. The hardships faced by this family are representative of the experiences of so many who leave their homes, belongings and everything they have known behind in search of a better tomorrow.
The illustrations, by Beth Peck, echo the sentiment created by the text. The air is full of anxiety and worry, shown by characters blurred by fog. The ocean and the sky form a bluish-grey blanket of sadness and fear.
The story is filled with similes, metaphors, and personification to help the reader better understand the emotional setting. The family deals with many challenges, from encountering thieves, to running low on food and water, to being turned away from the first island they happen upon.
When the family finally arrives in America, the are welcomed. It is Thanksgiving Day and they participate in a traditional feast. Though their journey didn’t take place at the same time as the first Thanksgiving, this story reminds us of what America represented to the Pilgrims, freedom from religious persecution. And in the many years since America has been a symbol of hope for a better future.
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The Thanksgiving Bowl by Virginia Kroll is a sweet story about the deeper meaning of Thanksgiving, taking a moment to appreciate what you have. Thanksgiving at Grandma Grace’s house includes a special tradition, anonymously jotting down one thing you are thankful for and placing it in the bowl. After dinner, each slip is read and the family guesses who it belongs to. At the end of the meal, the Thanksgiving bowl falls to the ground and rolls away.
In December, the bowl provides a scared mouse shelter from a hungry barn owl. In January, it becomes a hat for a snowman. In February, two curious otters climb into the bowl and sled downhill and into the water. The Thanksgiving bowl travels from place to place providing different people and creatures with a creative solution to a problem they are encountering at the moment. Luckily, the Thanksgiving bowl is found and returned to Grandma Grace’s just in time for the following year’s Thanksgiving meal!
The Thanksgiving Bowl is a great picture book for kids ages 5-8.
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