As I was reading Thanksgiving Graces, I could smell the turkey cooking, see the doors swing open with arriving guests and hear the cheery “hellos.” This picture book for ages 4 and above put me in the scene. I was welcomed to the Thanksgiving feast of a friendly, gracious family just as much as the invited guests and the surprise guests were.

Thanksgiving Graces by Mark Kimball Moulton, illustrated by David Wenzel and published by Ideals Children’s Books (2011) does have a table grace, but the story is not about a prayer. The story is about extending ourselves to welcome family, friends and strangers. The young boy in the story is excited when the guests start arriving, but he begins to feel afraid as more and more people come. Will there be enough to go around? He learns that sharing is possible and fun; God provides. This emphasis on God’s provision that enables us to share sets this children’s holiday picture book apart from other Thanksgiving stories with a contemporary setting.

David Wenzel’s illustrations are kid-friendly. The home and people are drawn in rich autumn colors. There is a lot of activity in the pictures and they capture the energy and fun of a large, happy gathering. The drawings also zero in on quieter moments of talking heart-to-heart and prayer. The story is told in rhyme and I think it adds to the fun. I did stumble a few times on my first reading, but further readings will no doubt smooth out.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) Two of her published works for children are Marty’s Monster and Jessica Jacobs Did What?  Her latest work is I Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.