by Tim Whitney
Bancroft Press, 2009
My Rating: A+
In helping children to develop a love of reading my experience shows that linking books with special events aids the process. It’s why reading and cuddling at bedtime is so effective. And what would Christmas be without Charles Dickens? If we have special books for Christmas, why not one for Thanksgiving?
Well, I’ve been looking for one that would fit the whole family for quite some time. I’ve been unsuccessful – until now. I finally found a tale that is suitable for the Thanksgiving holiday that I really like. I want to share it with you.
It’s the story of Heath, a boy somewhere around 12 or 13 whose life, while not exactly grim, doesn’t have much joy in it. There is just he and his dad. His mom left long ago. When his dad isn’t working he’s typing away on the novel he’s writing or he’s out drinking. Money is tight and Heath knows how to buy the cheapest groceries. They live a life of “let’s just get through it.”
Heath doesn’t remember his grandfather since his dad and he have been separated for a long time. But big changes are underway in Heath’s life when his grandfather dies and leaves his father an Inn in New England. There are stipulations however. They must live at the Inn for three months and they must please the permanent guests at the Inn before the dad can inherit. It’s at this point that Heath’s life goes from black and white into full technicolor.
The four permanent guests, and a couple of other characters, add the sparkle and joy to Heath’s life that was missing. They don’t spoil him. He is required to do chores such as feeding all the animals and mucking out their stalls. Each of the book’s characters has had some kind of tragedy in his/her life or made stupid mistakes but, overall, each one is very positive and even cheerful.
One of my favorite characters is Winstead, a Jamaican who teaches Heath how to carve wood and shares his three-legged dog with Heath. I also liked Sallie (Salvatore) who is a muscular, tattoo-covered, motorcycle driving mechanic who quietly draws and writes children’s books. As Heath becomes acquainted with each character he learns each of their secrets but also learns how to live a life of gratitude.
This is a book that is begging to be read aloud. The chapters are organized so that each part of the story is complete within the chapter. But, of course, you still want to know what’s going to happen next. The characters and the story develop over twenty-one chapters so it makes it perfect for after dinner reading during the month of November. Another plus is the size of the print. It’s not a large-print book but the print is just a little bit bigger than normal. It was easy enough for this Nana to read with no problems.
My ten-year-old granddaughter, Q, had no problem reading the book. The book could be read in turn by the whole family. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m giving this one a strong recommendation, especially for family reading. Thanksgiving is exactly four weeks from today. You still have time to get this one and start a new tradition with your family.
Other bloggers who have read and reviewed this book are:
You can find Thanksgiving at the Inn – Hardcover at Amazon.