After Ann and Ed, an elderly couple, overcook their dinner, they venture out to the nearby New World Cafe and find the door open. Readers are privy to the restaurateur's preparations for a family-only dinner and the children's plot to scare off the uninvited guests-but Grandmother reminds them it's a day of sharing, and the family shows Ann and Ed to seats of honor. Unusual centerpieces, Russian-looking fur hats on the men and white linen scarves to cover the women's hair, suggest the family's ethnic origins, but the focus here is not so much on the menu as on the spirit of generosity intrinsic to the holiday. The hosts show Ann and Ed upstairs for dancing after dinner; Ann teaches them to conga, Ed and Papa swap hats, and a friendship blooms. Adults may best appreciate the staid but accomplished artwork, but all will likely tap into the acts of kindness that contribute to Atwell's (River; Barn) economically told tale. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
What a lovely Thanksgiving Day message is found in this story about people who unexpectedly come together to celebrate the holiday. When Ann burns the dinner on Thanksgiving Day, she and Ed are feeling glum. Ed remembers that a new restaurant named the New World Cafe has opened in their neighborhood. Having ruined their Thanksgiving Day tradition, Ann is not very excited about eating in a restaurant, but she agrees to go because Ed is hungry. Well, a big surprise awaits this forlorn couple. A big surprise also awaits the family that owns the New World Cafe. This large family has only recently moved to America, and they are planning their first Thanksgiving Day celebration. Although the restaurant is not open for business that day, the door is open, so Ann and Ed walk in. At first, the children try to scare the couple away. But grandmother will not hear of it and lectures the children about sharing, "Family cooks turkey big as a dog house, but we don't share?" Ann and Ed become the guests of honor and they are in for an evening of great food, great conversation, and dancing. Everyone is thankful on this very special Thanksgiving Day. This poignant story will entertain readers while conveying an important message about sharing. Being open-minded about people whose traditions and culture are different is also a theme. The simple text and vibrant folk-art illustrations will have readers returning again and again to the pages of this book. 2003, Walter Lorraine Books/Houston Mifflin, $15. Ages 4 to 8.
Jeanne K. Pettenati, J.D.
K-Gr 3-After burning the Thanksgiving dinner, an elderly couple goes down the street to a restaurant. They wander in through the open door of the New World Caf , but the proprietor's family thinks that having customers will ruin their private party. Grandmother chastises them and so the "guests" are given the seats of honor. Soon, Ed and Ann join Papa, Grandmother, and the others in sharing their songs, dancing, and holiday warmth. As the family bids their new friends good evening, Papa wonders at the raw potato jammed under the door. Grandmother says, "In old country Thanksgiving door is like happy heart, opened up big and wide. Potato good for that." Atwell's luminous folk-art illustrations expand the story through details such as Russian onion domes in a picture on the wall, fur hats on the men, scarves on the women, and the cover illustration of Grandmother jamming that potato under the door. A particularly nice feature of this story is its focus on the elderly couple. A fine addition to holiday collections and for those looking for immigrant stories.-Bina Williams, Bridgeport Public Library, CT Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
In this sweet but slight story that conveys the true meaning of Thanksgiving, Atwell brings together two disparate families-pilgrims in their own way-for a celebratory feast. Ed and Ann have no choice but to try the new local restaurant when Ann burns their Thanksgiving dinner. To the distress of the children in the Eastern European immigrant family who own the place, the elderly couple saunter in the open door unannounced and uninvited to what the kids hoped would be a private family party. Grandma won't hear of anyone being turned away, however, and soon Ed and Ann are shown to the best seats at the table, embraced by the whole family, and dance the night away. "Thanksgiving door," says Grandma, "is like happy heart, opened up big and wide." Atwell's folkloric illustrations are colorful and energetic. A somewhat different dish for the Thanksgiving table. (Picture book. 4-8)
"Atwell's folkloric illustrations are colorful and energetic." Kirkus Reviews
"A fine addition to holiday collections and for those looking for immigrant stories."School Library Journal
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