The inspiring story of an early-19th-century woman who supported her family, made a name for herself and gave us all an opportunity to give thanks each November.
Allegra’s debut opens with Gardner's watercolor-and-pencil illustration of a family of six gathered around a turkey-laden table, hands joined, faces reflecting their sorrow: They had just buried their father, yet their mother, Sarah Josepha Hale, insisted on giving thanks for their blessings. Amusing and perfectly chosen anecdotes highlight the qualities that made Hale such a success—curiosity, thirst for knowledge and determination. Her husband, David, encouraged her writing, which would become the family’s means of support after his death in 1822. The writer of the first anti-slavery novel as well as “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” she became a household name as “editress” of two ladies’ magazines. Hale used the magazines to encourage women to think. Soon, she became someone whose opinions were taken seriously by her readership, including those about celebrating Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Four presidents refused her yearly requests, but Abraham Lincoln and a country embroiled in a Civil War needed to take a day to count blessings, and so Thanksgiving was made official. Gardner nicely combines vignettes and double-page spreads, his colors reflecting mood, while lots of period (and humorous) details will bring readers back for another perusal.
Readers will look forward to more from this talented author, who has penned a perfectly paced, rousing biography. (author’s note, selected sources) (Picture books/biography. 5-10)