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Peggy's Pages Blog 

Children's Thanksgiving Books

I think Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! It’s a time for family, good food, and remembering what really matters. It’s spending time and playing games together, too. And of course the football games after dinner. After everyone pitches in to help with the dishes.

I didn’t realize that I had so many children’s Thanksgiving books on my shelf until I decided to list them on my blog this week. There’s not room for all of them, but here are a few of my favorites.

THANKS FOR THANKSGIVING, by Julie Markes, illustrated by Doris Barrette, HarperCollins 2004. Wonderful rhythm and rhyme carry you through the many things that a child is thankful for. The illustrations are from a child’s view, and the colors and detail give richness to the book as a whole. This book captured my heart, and I actually paid full price for it when I saw it.

THIS FIRST THANKSGIVING DAY, by Laura Krauss Melmed, illustrated by Mark Buehner, Harper Trophy 2001. A countdown book to Thanksgiving dinner, each scene shows a piece of an earlier time as pilgrims and Indians prepare for a special feast. It ends on a note of harmony and friendship as all join together in a prayer of thanks for all that they have that first Thanksgiving day. Once again the rich fall colors and detail add so much to the story.

‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE THANKSGIVING, by author/illustrator Dav Pilkey, Scholastic 1990. A humorous story about 8 children on a field trip to a turkey farm who befriend 8 turkeys, doomed to be the main course for Thanksgiving dinner. A rescue plan is carried out and everyone enjoys a delicious vegetarian meal on Thanksgiving Day. The illustrations add to the humor, especially as the children waddle away ‘stuffed with turkey.’

THANKSGIVING IS HERE! By Diane Goode, author/illustrator, Scholastic 2003. This book celebrates family as each time the doorbell rings, more and more relatives join in. The celebration continues after dinner and on through dessert. At the end of the day everyone leaves to go home, but not to worry, because “we’ll be back!” The illustrations show a large loving family, happily enjoying being together at the holiday.

THANKSGIVING DAY AT OUR HOUSE, by Nancy White Carlstrom, illustrated by R. W. Alley, Scholastic 1999. A great collection of Thanksgiving poems starting with The Day Before, and ending with Goodnight Prayer. You’re sure to connect with the poems here, as well as with the illustrations which picture children and family the way we really are.

THIS IS THE TURKEY, by Abby Levine, illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye, albert Whitman & Co 2000. A good read-aloud with fun repetition throughout. When the turkey slips from the pan and ends up in the fish tank, the reader wonders if dinner is ruined. Grandma reassures them “…we have all we need because everyone’s here.” And Grandpa adds “No turkey? No problem! I’m hungry—let’s eat!” Illustrations compliment and add to this fun Thanksgiving story.

A few other books are:
SILLY TILLY’S THANKSGIVING DINNER, by Lillian Hoban, HarperTrophy 1991.
MINNIE AND MOO AND THE THANKSGIVING TREE, by author/illustrator Denys Cazet, DK Publishing, Inc 2000
TURKEY RIDDLES, by Katy Hall and Lisa Eisenberg, illustrated by Kristin Sorra, Puffin Books 2002

Happy Thanksgiving to All! Save room for the pie!  Read More 
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The Road to Publishing

On october 28th, the Indiana Writers Consortium held their 2nd annual Writers' Banquet at Strongbow Inn in Valparaiso, IN. After dinner, a panel of authors moderated by Kathryn Page Camp discussed the Road to Publishing as it happened for them.

The panel consisted of: Kate Collins, mystery book author, Cynthia Echterling, science fiction author, Katherine Flotz, memoir author, Michael Poore, fiction author, and
yours truly (me), children's picture book author. (Photos are on the left).

One of the questions that we were asked was why we chose the publishing route that we did, and the pros and cons of each. I thought that I'd share this with you.

I chose to pursue children's books via traditional, or trade, publishing. I did not have any knowledge of marketing, sales or book promotion, nor did I have any interest in learning that part of it. I just wanted to write the stories. And with a growing family, I had little time or money for selling and promotion. I'm not sure what my expectations were at the time , but I decided to give it a try. I was lucky enough to find editors who liked what I wrote, and wanted to publish my books.

My first book was a Little Golden Book. After three revisions, I was offered a contract and they bought my book outright for a flat fee. I received no royalties, and was not notified when the book went out of print. It was a great experience, and validated my ability to write for children. But I decided that I wanted something more, and after that I sought out publishers who would pay an advance and royalties, and with whom I could be more involved.

Over 20 years later I sold my second book to Dial Books for Young Readers, and my third book was accepted by Candlewick Press six months later. During those 20+ years between my first and second sales, I learned to write better, and made occasional sales to children's magazines.

Some of the pros of publishing with a larger trade publisher are:

I do not pay any money to have my book published. Rather, the publisher pays me an advance, and when that advance is earned out by book sales, I receive royalty payments.

I am not required to do any marketing or sales. The publisher places my books in major bookstores, and markets them to libraries. My books are sold online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online bookstores. They are promoted on the publisher's website and in their catalogs. Pre-publication copies of my book are sent to major reviewers of children's books. Any book promotion that I do for my books is appreciated and helpful to sales, but I am not required to do any book promotion. Through my publsiher, my books have been picked up by Scholastic Book Club. They've been listed on the accelerated reading lists.

I work with an editor who makes suggestions for revisions that will improve my book. She is expereinced in publishing books for children, and that experience helps me to make good revisions.

The publisher chooses an illustrator who compliments my text. An Art Director works with the illustrator to create a book that is appealing to readers, both children and the adults reading to them.


The publisher decides when the book goes out of print. At that time I can request that the rights be returned to me.

The publisher has the final word on the illustrations for my books. I do have some input, but they make the final decision. Sometimes the pictures are not what I had imagined, but I have to trust their judgment and experience in publishing children's books. And the final result has resulted in great picture books, with the story told through words and pictures together. It's exciting to see how my words inspire what the illustrator sees.

I'm happy with the route that I've chosen. I don't have total control, but I doubt that I have the knowledge or experience necessary to make my books as successful as they have been on my own. Thanks to all of the people behind the scenes who've helped do that part for me.

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