Saturday, November 15, 2008

Turkey for Thanksgiving: Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey by Joy Cowley

Miguel is overjoyed when his truck-driver father sends a crated turkey with a note saying "Fatten this turkey for Thanksgiving. I'll be home to share it with you. Love from Papa."

Miguel and his grandparents, Abuelo and Abuela, set about taking good care of the turkey, appropriately named Gracias, moving him from a cage in the backyard to the bathroom when he is almost stolen. It's a bit of a problem sharing a bath with a turkey, but Miguel comes to love his pet, and although he longs to see his father, he begins to dread Thanksgiving.

"Can we get another turkey for Thanksgiving," Miguel pleads. "One that's already dead?"

As time goes by Gracias becomes a neighborhood pet, with Officer Devereaux rescuing him from a robber and the mowers at Central Park saving grass clipping for him. When Gracias gets loose and follows him right down the aisle at church, Padre Jaime ad libs a blessing for boy and pet, and the family agrees that it'll be chicken for their Thanksgiving dinner, since, as everyone agrees,

"You can't eat a turkey who's been blessed."

The family's cheerful coping with a wandering turkey and feathers in their bathroom creates a warm and cozy Thanksgiving scene, as Gracias is invited to join the family in some cornbread at the table. The day is complete when, just before bedtime, Miguel's father finally arrives to share the whole story of the turkey for Thanksgiving.

In this Hispanic take on the old "turkey at the table, not on the table" theme, Joe Cepeda's wonderful urban scenes and colorful family members evoke the charm of Ezra Jack Keats "Peter and Willie" stories. Gracias, The Thanksgiving Turkey is sure to become a staple on the Thanksgiving table.

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