Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This is the Feast (copy)

For centuries humans have celebrated the harvesting of crops. America, being a rather newcomer to history, uniquely celebrates harvest on the fourth Thursday of November thanks to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Historians are unsure the exact date the first feast took place, but it is believed to be between September 21, and November 11, 1621. Before President Roosevelt’s proclamation, Thanksgiving was celebrated whenever presidents deemed an appropriate time.

The first feasts were not known by the term Thanksgiving, either. To the pilgrims, Thanksgiving was a religious celebration spent in church to thank God for victory on the battle field or rain after a drought. The original feast in 1621 celebrated the pilgrims’ first harvest in the new world, but the next year they did not celebrate. In 1623 they met again to pray for rain after a month long drought, and when the event occurred during the prayers it was truly a Thanksgiving.

Another misconception about Thanksgiving is the actual food eaten. Pilgrims did not dine on ham, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, cranberry sauce, or pumpkin pie. They feasted on an assortment of wild fowl, game, and seafood. The corn was a dry snack and the fruit (plums and grapes) were eaten raw without the trappings of sugar and flour. This entire trivia is gleaned from the History Channel’s website,

While reading this week’s book, This is the Feast by Diane Z. Shore and illustrated by Megan Lloyd, I was struck by its historical accuracy. The pilgrims are wearing clothes with color not the black-white drab depicted in my youth. They are sick in the Mayflower as they sail towards America, and they set to work building houses as soon as they come ashore.

This is the Feast is a brightly colored picture-book for children, ages three to eight. Although, it is too wordy for toddlers to sit still through, it is the perfect companion for parents to read or paraphrase annually for the holiday season. The words have a delightful singsong quality such as “This is Thanksgiving, a time to remember the friendships and freedoms we all share together.”

Illustrator Megan Lloyd uses her paintbrush to create mood. The pilgrims’ sickness and toil is depicted with somber colors, and daily life is illustrated with bright oranges and yellows typical of a fall celebration. The feast scenes are the best with tables full of oysters, clams, lobster, fish, and cheese. Can someone pass me a plate?

I hope all have a Happy Thanksgiving with plenty happy reading.

Please stop by any of these fine blogger participating in the Kidz Book Blog Tour! the 160acrewoods, A Mom Speaks, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Cafe of Dreams, Dolce Bellezza, Homeschool Buzz,, Looking Glass Reviews, Maggie Reads, Maw Books Blog, Never Jam Today, Olive Tree, Our Big Earth, Quiverfull Family, Reading is My Superpower, SmallWorld Reads