When the book opens, Ellen Chilton, a Pilgrim girl, is complaining about having salted beef for dinner - again. That's all she's eaten for weeks on board the Mayflower, and she's sick of it. Even so, her father thanks God for the food and her mother says they should be thankful they aren't starving.
Soon the Mayflower finds land and the Pilgrim's life in the New World begins. The winter is hard, however, and many Pilgrims grow ill. Ellen's mother is sick in bed, but God answers Ellen's prayers and her mother survives - unlike many of Ellen's friends.
When spring comes, Ellen nearly bumps into an Indian. He tells Ellen and her father his name is Samoset and he and his friends help the colony plant corn, grow squash and beans, learn to catch fish and eel, and more. In the fall, the harvest is bountiful, so a "celebration to thank God for the harvest" is prepared. During the three day celebration, Ellen works hard to feed everyone, but she says "a little prayer thanking God for helping her mother to get well and for all good things He gives - even salted beef."
The next page shows a modern day family celebrating Thanksgiving, and the author tells us we still use this holiday to
"thank God for the many blessings He gives...we thank God for food and drink, shelter and clothing, our minds, our bodies, our health. All that we have comes from our heavenly Father's bountiful hand. Even better than all these blessings is the gift of Jesus, whose love and promise of salvation fill every day of our lives. And that is the best reason for giving thanks on Thanksgiving Day and every day!"What I Like: I really like how this book ties together the historical Thanksgiving Day with the modern celebration. I think it gives children a foundational understanding of why the holiday is important, both in the 17th century and now. The illustrations by Renne Benoit are also attractive, with a slightly old fashioned, wood cut feel.
What I Dislike: It seems strange not to mention why the Pilgrims came to the New World, but this book doesn't. Readers should also not expect a thorough overview of the Mayflower trip or the Pilgrim's first year in North America from this title. However, the book does a nice job, overall, of giving the basics.
Overall Rating: Very good.
Age Appeal: 4 - 8.
Publishing Info: Concordia, 2006; ISBN: 978-0758609168; hardback, 25 pgs., $7.49
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