Sam has trouble thinking of what he is most grateful for when his class celebrates Thanksgiving, and Elliott has trouble sustaining the focus on group relationships begun with Sam’s first outing (A String of Hearts, 2010).
Sam’s classmates have no difficulty giving thanks for football, sweet potatoes and shopping. Led by Mrs. Wright, the class discusses the first Thanksgiving (Native Americans taught Pilgrims to plant and hunt; Pilgrims celebrated their friendship and the harvest with a feast). Then the students brainstorm ways to celebrate—costumes, food, crafts and a yarn turkey whose feathers are made up of the students’ thanks—but that only increases Sam’s anxiety. He does manage to think of something for the day of the feast, but will the wind steal it? Mary Ann’s bow-and-arrow practice pays off, rescuing at least part of Sam’s surprise, and Sam now knows just what to write on not one, but two feathers. It’s just too bad more of the book doesn't focus on the close relationships among the students. One page of backmatter tells more about the relationship between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, while another provides some facts about the modern-day Thanksgiving celebration. Munsinger’s sweet, enthusiastic and diverse anthropomorphized animal cast is quite busy with individual projects, which all turn out, rather unrealistically, spectacularly.
With its wide variety of activities and crafts, this is sure to spark some classroom celebration ideas, though it otherwise doesn’t stand out from other holiday titles. (Picture book. 4-8)