Review by Hannah Henricksen
What is your favorite thing about Thanksgiving? For most people the answer is either the people or the food, or both. In Thanksgiving in the Woods, a family and their friends celebrate Thanksgiving by gathering in the woods, amongst the trees. Wooden planks are set up for tables and hay bales are brought for sitting on. The children build forts out of tree branches and logs found in the woods, and bonfires are built to keep warm and cozy. Each person brings something to share, and the day becomes one of celebrating family, faith, and friendship. This became a tradition for more than twenty years because it created a close-knit community and really celebrated the part of Thanksgiving that is about surrounding yourself with family, friends, and loved ones. The pictorial narrative compliments the verbal one by illustrating out exactly what is being said. The pictures give a clear interpretation of what the words are saying. For instance, in an opening, the main character (a little boy) is packing everything he’ll need for Thanksgiving in the woods, and the pictorial narrative shows his toolbelt, rocks, seashells, flashlight, and rope, all which are listed in the verbal narrative. Another example is from a single page opening where three kids are pulling on sweaters and scarves hurriedly because they want to be the first ones to the celebration. The verbal narration tells the reader that exact thing. The children want to get to Thanksgiving in the woods as quickly as possible. The pictorial narrative is a compliment to the verbal narration by clearly giving the reader a picture of the actions.
The visual style is greatly dominated by double page spreads, a signature style of picturebooks, which gives the reader a feeling of what the atmosphere and feeling of the celebration was like. In one double page spread, the adults are hauling the wooden planks and hay bales into the location amongst the trees as the children are building a fort. The illustration uses vibrant oranges and yellows to show the changing leaf colors, along with the characters having happy, excited expressions. The characters are also dressed in hats and sweaters, giving the reader the feeling of the crisp fall in New York. During this story, the reader is a viewer, so they are given an inside perspective as to what the preparations for the celebration is like. In addition, the reader can see how the main theme of this celebration is to spend time with family and friends, while cherishing the time with them. Because the setting is off in the woods, not in the bustle of the cities, the reader is able to see the emphasis on family.
Thanksgiving in the Woods
By Phyllis Alsdurf, Ill. Jenny Lovlie
Sparkhouse Family, 2017
Reviewed by Hannah Henricksen in April 2018. Hannah is an environmental science major, whose favorite tree is a jack pine tree.