The Thanksgiving Story – 1955 Caldecott Honor Book

The Thanksgiving Story written by Alice Dalgliesh and illustrated by Helen Sewell is certainly one of the better children’s books with which I am familiar that recount the story of the Pilgrims’ and Indians’ first day of giving thanks together, along with the events leading up to that famous occasion.  Historical fiction, this 1955 Caldecott Honor book follows a family with four children through this time in history.  While I love that the emphasis is on giving thanks to God, I was disappointed with an incorrect definition of “Pilgrims” early in the book.  I believe the author could have applied her definition more correctly  to the term “Puritans” and called all of the travelers, regardless of their reason for pursuing a life in America, “Pilgrims.”


Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – Every other page is illustrated with vibrantly colorful, simple depictions of the story.  The alternating pages are outlined with interesting, rust-colored block figures and drawings.

 2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – I appreciate that the illustrator chose to accurately picture the story, including the clothing and food.

 3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  These pictures are stylistically appropriate for the era of the story.

 4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – All of these characteristics are clear through the pictures except for mood.  From what I understand of Puritan culture, though, this lack of emotional display would have been typical.

 5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children enjoyed this book and asked lots of questions about the story.  I would recommend this book to remind families of the true reason for our nation’s Thanksgiving holiday.


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Filed under Caldecott Medal Winners, Recommended Reads

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