“The Very Stuffed Turkey”

By Katharine Kenah

Illustrated by Binny Talib

Best for ages 3 – 5

How many Thanksgiving dinners can one turkey eat? When Turkey gets invited to each of his barnyard friend’s houses — Pig, Horse, Goat and Sheep, Cow and Mouse — for holiday celebrations, five may just be the magic number.

After suitable exercise and stretches, Turkey feels ready for the day ahead and heads out for dinner with Pig’s family. After a game of pumpkin ball and a tasty Thanksgiving stew, Turkey feels like part of the family. From one house to the next Turkey makes his way through one meal after another. At each stop he’s included in holiday activities and always feels like part of the family. This sense of family and friendship is what cements Thanksgiving as one of America’s most beloved holidays.

This is a fun tale that is good for pre-K through first-grade story time as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches.

What’s good: Bright, engaging illustrations focus on the warmth of family and friends.

What’s bad: The story glorifies overeating a bit, but that is softened by the strong message of family.

“The Queen’s Hat”

By Steve Antony

Best for ages 3 – 6

What would you see, if you could fly through the streets of London? This simple tale of the Queen, her grandchild and a purple hat introduces young readers around the world to the interesting destinations around London. It all begins when the Queen decides to go for a visit. Before she can get far, a gust of wind blows her hat into the sky. Most of the book follows the Queen as she and her dog try to catch up to her flying hat.

Illustrations using minimalistic colors capture the romp through Trafalgar Square, up Big Ben, over the London Eye and all through the streets as more and more Beefeater guards join in the hunt.

What’s good: This fun romp through London will bring out giggles in small children.

What’s bad: The overly simplistic story may not appeal to children with no interest in London.

“The Whisper”

By Pamela Zagarenski

Best for ages 4 – 8

Sometimes a good book and a good imagination can be as comfortable as a warm hug.

Zagarenski, a Caldecott-honored illustrator, stretches her chops as an author with The Whisper. The story follows a little girl who loves to read — so much so that the characters are like her family. When the little girl borrows a magical book from her teacher, she soon learns that books are about much more than the words on the page. Readers may take this as an illustrator promoting the importance of illustrations, but don’t.

Zagarenski is merely pointing out the importance of stretching using the ability to imagine and create your own stories.

Each spread contains a beautiful illustration accompanied by a story starter. It all flows nicely as part of the little girl’s story. It can also be used in classrooms to help children explore creative writing and storytelling. Zagarenski’s artwork and lyrical style will engage young readers and encourage them to imagine every story from start to finish.

What’s good:Beautifully engaging illustrations and a warm narrative are appealing.

What’s bad: Some young readers may be uneasy with the unfinished stories on each page. 

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