Saturday, November 21, 2009

Not Ready for Prime Turkey Time: Thanksgiving Turkey Trouble by Abby Klein

"I have a problem.

A really, really big problem.

My class is doing a play for Thanksgiving, and I'm afraid I'll get the worst part!

Let me tell you about it."

It's an inconvenient truth that the star of many elementary Thanksgiving dramas is often the central symbol of the day--the turkey--a comically awkward critter at best who, as well as winding up being the main course of the feast, has a name which is also the slang synonym for "loser." When Freddy, the main character in Abby Klein's Thanksgiving Turkey Trouble (Ready, Freddy!), (Scholastic, 2008) learns from his know-it-all big sister that Mrs. Wushy has her first graders draw their roles for the performance from a hat, he immediately begins to obsess over the possibility that HE will have to be the turkey. "The turkey! NO WAY!" Freddy moans. His mom and dad make light of the odds and assure him that he'll do well even if he doesn't get to be an Indian brave, but Freddy still dreads the moment when he pulls that folded square out of the hat:

And there it was, in big letters. T-U-R-K-E-Y.

Of course, Max, the would-be class bully, takes this opportunity to compose a poem in Freddy's honor, which he gleefully recites to the giggles of the whole class:

"The turkey is a funny bird.
His head goes wobble, wobble, wobble,
And his only word is gobble, gobble, gobble."

But as always, with plenty of support from his family, excluding, as usual, his big sister Suzie, who comes up with several disaster scenarios for the reluctant thespian, and with a pep talk from his sympathetic principal, Mr. Prendergast, Freddy manages to pull off the performance with pizzazz, turning his turkey into a footlight triumph.

Author Abby Klein, an experienced Kindergarten and first-grade teacher, knows how to portray youngsters and write dialog which rings true in the school setting. Light-heartedly illustrated by John McKinley, this beginning chapter series continues to entice young readers, showing why Thanksgiving Turkey Trouble (Ready, Freddy!), is one of her long-running Ready, Freddy series, which now includes her latest for the Christmas season, The Perfect Present (Ready, Freddy!). Both of these books also include holiday games and crafts for young readers, as well her her trademark letters (FIN) hidden in each illustration.

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