Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, but readers may not be aware that harvest festivals have taken place in almost every culture and country since grain was first sown. Penner, author of The Colonial Cookbook and The Honey Book, here gathers together woodcuts, art, oral literature (poems and prayers from the Indians) and texts from old cookbooks, Early American household accounts and harvest lore from around the world. She includes recipes for sweet-potato pie, preserved pumpkin chips, cranberry conserve and many other delights that she has adapted for the 20th century kitchen. This well-researched book is a treasury of information about our least-commercialized but most heartfelt celebration. (10-up)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7 Penner traces harvest festivals from the earliest known times, when many of the ancient rites were both celebratory and ritualistic. There is a good description of how native Americans celebrated and how the Pilgrims and Indians combined elements of both the Old and New Worlds in their first joint celebration. The Thanksgiving Book is attractive, well written, and interesting. Prints and photographs add to the lively text, and recipes are given for foods described. A bibliography and very complete index are included. Many other books, such as Edna Barth's Turkeys, Pilgrims, and Indian Corn (Houghton, 1975), tend to understate the long history of harvest celebrations among all peoples and the contributions those celebrations have made to ours. Penner corrects this and goes further, with her discussion of important contributions of various immigrant and ethnic groups to our Thanksgiving. This book will add to young people's understanding of how virtually all peoples have celebrated their harvests and the many ways our modern celebrations continue that tradition. Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, Mo.