Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks

If you want to give your kids a taste of the basic Thanksgiving history, The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks by Jan and Mike Berenstain is a fun choice.

In this new title, the familiar Berenstain bear family delivers some hand made furniture to some friends on a farm. For payment, the family gives Papa some produce - and a fat turkey called Squanto (named, we learn, after the famous "Native Bear" who helped the Pilgrims plant their corn). Papa's mouth is already watering, imagining the turkey complimenting his Thanksgiving dinner, but Sister is horrified. Squanto is much too handsome to eat. Besides, she's "never met her Thanksgiving dinner before." She wants to keep Squanto as a pet, but Papa isn't convinced.

Trying to distract Sister's mind, Mama suggests Sister and Brother put on a Thanksgiving play for all the relatives. Mama volunteers to sew costumes if Sister will write the script. This does keep Sister's mind off Squanto, and soon Sister, Brother, and their cousins are putting on a fine Thanksgiving show offering the very basics about the Pilgrims and their desire to worship God freely, the Mayflower, and Squanto.

However, when Mama calls "Dinnertime!", Sister suddenly remembers Squanto. But she's relieved when Papa points out the window at the pen he's made for the family's new pet: the turkey Squanto. A fine salmon is the center of the family's Thanksgiving dinner and when prayers of thanksgiving to God go round, Sister adds, "And I am especially thankful for my wonderful new pet, Squanto to the turkey!" "AMEN!" everyone cries.

The last page of the book offers a few conversation-starting questions and project ideas about giving thanks and the Thanksgiving holiday.

What I Like: My four year old loves the Berenstain bear books, and this title is no exception. It's a fun reminder of the basics of why we celebrate Thanksgiving: to remember an important part of history and to thank God for all he gives us. The Christian content in this book is, in my opinion, just right. It is neither an afterthought, nor does it get in the way of the story or become preachy. I'm also pretty picky about books that show kids upset about eating animals; I want my children to have a what I consider a natural attitude about animals being designed for us to eat. However, I do not find this book provokes my preschooler to question eating meat.

What I Dislike: The questions and projects page could be better, but the story itself is a big hit in my household.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: 4 - 8.

Publishing Info: Zonderkidz, 2009; ISBN: 978-0310712510; paperback, $3.99

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Special Info: Be sure to check out our other reviews of Berenstain bears books.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great review. I'll be looking for it at my local bookstore!