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Thanksgiving at the Tappletons’

Title: Thanksgiving at the Tappletons

Author: Eileen Spinelli

Illustrator: Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Age Group: 3-8

Synopsis: The Tappletons’ Thanksgiving dinner is tradition and amazing but when nothing goes right will they have anything to be thankful for?


The Low Down:

This was my favorite Thanksgiving story growing up. Granted there are not a lot of Thanksgiving stories but this was by far my favorite and still is. I love the message and the humor speaks to kids and adults alike.

An underlying message of honesty is also at work here and slowly manifests itself through the pages. Everything seems to go wrong in this story. In fact, the Tappletons are lucky that the train didn’t derail with Grandmother, Grandfather, Uncle Fritz, and Aunt Hetta. Through a series of unforeseeable accidents the turkey ends up in the pond, the pie store runs out of pie, the salad has been fed to rabbits, and the mashed potatoes need to be wiped off the ceiling. Strangely, the immediate Tappleton family doesn’t confide in each other. Instead each dish, or lack there of, is unveiled to a room of hungry family members waiting expectantly. Each time the family brushes off the disappointment, looking on the bright side that at least there will be trimmings or pie. It’s not until the empty pie boxes are revealed that the hungry reality sets in. It’s all looking a bit grim when Grandmother rallies her troops. With an inspiring Thanksgiving prayer, the true meaning of Thanksgiving is brought to the forefront of everyone’s mind. It’s not food or even football but family. And with that, a meal is scraped together that may not go down as the most delicious meal but one that underscores what Thanksgiving is truly about.img_7259.jpg

The Tappletons are each delightfully drawn with their own unique characteristics that match the dialogue beautifully. Their characters are also paired with the delightfully amusing depictions of their blunders: the turkey sinking in the pond, the empty pie boxes opened, flying mashed potatoes. Cocca-Leffler is also clever with the way she endears the family to us by including a photo album full of previous family get togethers at the beginning of the story and brings it full circle at the end of the book.

The Tappletons do not provide an unerring example to readers but that is what makes this book so perfect for this time of year. It doesn’t focus on food, turkeys, and past. It focuses on what we have here and now that we can be grateful for: family, love, and friendship. When we sit down this year, I’ll be thankful for our family, the opportunities we have, and that should disaster strike, that I keep a healthy amount of leftovers in the fridge.img_7259.jpg


Story Tips:

  1. There are a few dialogue bits that are written over the pictures. I’m not sure why but I always miss these even thought they’re in bold, orange font. Keep an eye out for them.
  2. Have a lunch of salami (I’ve never had liverwurst and am not inclined to try it but if you like it, kudos) sandwiches with pickles and apple sauce and call it a Tappleton Thanksgiving meal.

I need more!

Eileen Spinelli has a plethora of books available. I haven’t read much else by her but have added Thankful to my list of to read. Her website is a bit cluttered so I’d use Google or Amazon to browse the titles she has available.

Maryann Cocca-Leffler also has a great number of books available that she’s both written and illustrated. Her Princess K.I.M. books are currently being turned into musicals. Check out her website here: http://www.maryanncoccaleffler.com/Maryann_Cocca-Leffler_Author_Illustrator/Books/Books.html


Add to my library:

UK Amazon: Thanksgiving at the Tappletons’

US Amazon:Thanksgiving at the Tappletons’

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