Feast your eyes on 3 great tales
November is flying by, and suddenly Thanksgiving is just around the corner. As many of us prepare for big Thanksgiving feasts, here are a few books befitting the occasion:
— "Carnivores" (2013, Chronicle Books, written by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Dan Santat, ages 4-8) is the newest book by Chicago author Reynolds (his previous book, "Creepy Carrots" was reviewed in an earlier column).
The text begins in a formal style: "THE LION IS KNOWN THROUGHOUT THE ANIMAL KINGDOM AS THE 'KING OF BEASTS.' THE GREAT WHITE SHARK IS THE MOST FEARED PREDATOR IN THE OCEANS. AND THE TIMBER WOLF'S HOWL STRIKES TERROR INTO THE HEARTS OF FUZZY WOODLAND CREATURES EVERYWHERE."
Then, at the bottom of the first spread, are the words, "But even SAVAGE CARNIVORES get their feelings hurt."
We then read that Lion feels hurt when the wildebeests call him "bad kitty" just because he's eaten half the neighborhood. The great white shark gets a bad rap because of his "feeding frenzies." But he's simply a fast eater. And the timber wolf isn't sneaky; he's just a very quiet walker. He can't help it.
The three carnivores are tired of being misunderstood. They get together and decide to do something about it. "We'll go VEGETARIAN!" announces the timber wolf. They try, but somehow the plan doesn't work. Disguising themselves as less predatory animals isn't successful either.
Finally, they approach the oldest and wisest carnivore of all: the great horned owl.
"It used to hurt my feelings, too," he says. "But now I remind myself I'm not bad. I'm a carnivore. Eating meat is just what I do."
The carnivores find the wise old owl brilliant. And delicious. They proudly go back to being exactly who they are: carnivores.
Santat's bold illustrations beef up the humor in this uproariously funny, entertaining take on the theme of being true to yourself.
— "One is a Feast for Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale" (2009, Holiday House, written by Judy Cox, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler, ages 3-7) starts when Mouse peeks out of his hole to find the remains of a huge Thanksgiving feast.
He creeps out to eat a "teensy-tiny" pea, saying "One will be a feast for me."
Surrounded by all of that food, however, he decides that more would be better. He adds to the pile until he's carrying a cranberry, a plate of mashed potatoes, the gravy boat, a platter of turkey and more. The text and the pile build one by one until cat comes along. Then Mouse runs, the pile collapses and it seems that all is lost.
In the end, though, from the safety of his hole, Mouse eyes a " teensy-tiny, round and toothsome, green and luscious pea."
"Give thanks!" he says as he retrieves the pea. "One is a feast for me!" The lively, expressive illustrations add to the gentle humor of the story.
— If you enjoy funny Thanksgiving tales, I can't resist recommending this one, too — "Turk and Runt: A Thanksgiving Comedy" (2002, Atheneum Books, written by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Frank Ansley, ages 4-8).
Of all of the birds on Wishbone Farm, Turk is the biggest, strongest and most graceful. His parents are proud.
"He's a dancer," says his mother. "He's an athlete," says his father. "He's a goner," says his little brother, Runt.
But nobody listens to Runt. See what happens as you read this warm, hilarious Thanksgiving story.
Alice B. McGinty (http://www.alicebmcginty.com) is the award-winning author of more than 40 books for children as well as the director of a summer writing camp for teens. She is a writing teacher, manuscript coach and the co-regional adviser for the Illinois Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.