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Turkey Tot by George Shannon

Share Turkey Tot with your kids this fall and all year ’round!

Turkey Tot (Holiday House, $16.99, available in ebook format, ages 3-6) by George Shannon with illustrations by Jennifer K. Mann, is reviewed by MaryAnne Locher.

Turkey Tot cover art
Turkey Tot written by George Shannon with illustrations by Jennifer K. Mann, Holiday House, 2013.

Turkey Tot. The title made me think it might be a good book to review this time of year. Other than having a turkey as the main character, this book has nothing to do with Thanksgiving. That is, unless you want a book with a turkey in it who would be smart enough to think of a way to escape being cooked for dinner! But that’s not the story.

Turkey Tot, written by George Shannon with artwork by award winning illustrator Jennifer K. Mann, is so engaging with its repetitive verse and brightly colored illustrations, I almost didn’t notice the lessons hidden in the story.

Chick, Hen, Pig, and Turkey Tot are four friends who all want the same thing; sweet juicy blackberries. The only problem is the blackberries are too high on the bush for any of them to reach. Turkey Tot, being quite the visionary, gets excited when he finds some string, and decides that if he could only find balloons, he and his friends could all float up to the blackberries. There are no balloons to be found, but Turkey Tot finds a hammer, nails, and two tin cans. His friends don’t share in his excitement, think he is being silly, and go off to take a nap leaving Turkey Tot, who “has been different since the day he hatched,” alone.

Little ones will see how sometimes, being different is a good thing, especially when you set a goal and have the creativity, ability, and determination to think outside of the box to achieve it.


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Turkey Monster Thanksgiving

I am so glad I got the chance to read Turkey Monster Thanksgiving by Anne Warren Smith ($5.99, Albert Whitman & Company, ages 7-10) because, though originally published in 2003, the characters as well as the message of this book remain timeless. How important is celebrating this annual holiday as society dictates? While my parents were not divorced, it was never as big a tradition to have a turkey dinner as it was simply to be together. In fact I recall quite a few Chinese restaurant visits over the years which suited my family just fine!

Katie Jordan is a 9-year-old whose dad is divorced and deadline-plagued, and whose 3-year-old brother, Tyler, is a mess-making machine. Mom left the family to pursue a solo singing career in the world of country and western music, but still sees her children when her schedule permits. Claire Plummer, Katie’s acquaintance (because though they walked to school together, Katie did not consider Little Miss Perfect a friend), was planning a big to-do with her dad for Thanksgiving. They were inviting 40 guests and doing things according to the book, or in this case Beautiful Living magazine because, since her mother died, Claire and her dad continued all the traditions begun by Mrs. Plummer. The countdown until Thanksgiving had officially begun.

Katie’s family, on the other hand, spent Thanksgiving in their pajamas and ate pizza not turkey, just the way her dad liked it. Yet this year, Katie was itching to do a Plummer-style Thanksgiving, including inviting guests, something her dad was adamantly opposed to.

“It’s a good thing we’re not having Thanksgiving dinner, I shouted.  “How can anyone eat next to … that?” I pointed at Tyler. “He has peanut butter up his nose. I am going to throw up!”

Katie was in a panic and determined to get the holiday right,  find some guests to invite and make a spectacular meal, turkey included. But could she get it all done in time and still get it right? Tweens will be eager to read Turkey Monster Thanksgiving to find out how Katie fares and whether it’s feast or famine for her family’s holiday.

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