By: Diane Z. Shore
Illustrated by: Megan Lloyd
Publication Date: August 2008
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: October 2008
Amid the scores of Christmas books, it is nice to see one highlighting the holiday of Thanksgiving. This Is The Feast, is a colorful, lyrical story of the pilgrims’ first year. The story begins with the harrowing trip across the ocean on the Mayflower, covers the hardships of the first year in Massachusetts, the appearance of the Indians through the first bountiful harvest and Thanksgiving feast. In keeping with the tone of the times, “Thanks be to God for…” with a different ending is used every few pages to end the thought or event described.
The illustrations for This Is The Feast are bright, detailed, and sure to encourage conversations between child and parent. The hardworking pilgrims are shown planting, cutting trees for homes, harvesting, and greeting the Indians. Plenty of animals are included too, from dogs and cats to goats and plump, happy chickens.
The one problem I had with this title is that the author goes a bit overboard with the hardships the pilgrims faced. Geared toward three to eight-year-olds (according to the book jacket), I think it is sufficient to say life was hard. Instead, one page explains, “This is the hearth, soothing the soul, as death and disease take a terrible toll.” The picture shows women and children working around the hearth, with an ill-looking man in a bed in the background. I feel this goes a bit too far in a young children’s book. Also, be sure to read the historical note at the start so that when “Squanto his name, a keen-eyed Patuxet the plague didn’t claim,” is read, you will be able to explain to your young audience who the Patuxets were and what happened to them.
Quill says: A bit harsh about the realities of Thanksgiving, but overall a good book to teach children about this holiday.