Reviews for Sarah Gives Thanks : How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday


Booklist Reviews 2012 October #1
Sarah Josepha Hale was already a published writer when her husband died, in 1822. To support her five young children, she became a novelist and, eventually, the editor of "the most widely read magazine in America," Godey's Lady's Book. Over time, Hale took up various causes, but, beginning in 1826, she worked to make Thanksgiving "a national festival and observed by all our people." Each year, she promoted the holiday in her magazine, encouraged leaders to get behind it, and sent a request to the president. Finally, in 1863, Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday. The informative text is clearly written, and the watercolor artwork is fluid and engaging. Indicating the passage of time in a picture book is challenging, but Gardner manages by showing Sarah aging, her children growing up, and a succession of U.S. presidents receiving her written requests. An author's note and source bibliography round out this rewarding picture book on Hale and her role in the history of Thanksgiving. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
As "editress" of two popular ladies' magazines in the mid-1800s, Sarah Josepha Hale advocated for women's education, wrote the first novel condemning slavery, and penned "Mary Had a Little Lamb." This picture-book biography focuses on Hale's tireless work to make Thanksgiving a national holiday, but her wide-ranging influence comes across in the admiring text, the author's note, and the genial illustrations. Bib.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #1
The inspiring story of an early-19th-century woman who supported her family, made a name for herself and gave us all an opportunity to give thanks each November. Allegra's debut opens with Gardner's watercolor-and-pencil illustration of a family of six gathered around a turkey-laden table, hands joined, faces reflecting their sorrow: They had just buried their father, yet their mother, Sarah Josepha Hale, insisted on giving thanks for their blessings. Amusing and perfectly chosen anecdotes highlight the qualities that made Hale such a success--curiosity, thirst for knowledge and determination. Her husband, David, encouraged her writing, which would become the family's means of support after his death in 1822. The writer of the first anti-slavery novel as well as "Mary Had a Little Lamb," she became a household name as "editress" of two ladies' magazines. Hale used the magazines to encourage women to think. Soon, she became someone whose opinions were taken seriously by her readership, including those about celebrating Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Four presidents refused her yearly requests, but Abraham Lincoln and a country embroiled in a Civil War needed to take a day to count blessings, and so Thanksgiving was made official. Gardner nicely combines vignettes and double-page spreads, his colors reflecting mood, while lots of period (and humorous) details will bring readers back for another perusal. Readers will look forward to more from this talented author, who has penned a perfectly paced, rousing biography. (author's note, selected sources) (Picture books/biography. 5-10) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 August

Gr 1-5--More of a biography about Sarah Josepha Hale than a holiday book, this well-researched, engaging read-aloud offers youngsters a glimpse into the lives of women and families in 19th-century America as well as to the history of how Thanksgiving became a national holiday. More commonly known as the author of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," Hale was actually a feminist before her time, despite her lack of formal education. When she became widowed with five young children, she wrote to support her family. Her book of poems and first novel led to a position as an editor at Ladies' Magazine. Unlike other magazines of the period, this publication ran articles on history, science, and schools for women. Hale went on to take a job as an "editress" at Lady's Book, making it "the most widely read magazine in the country." As her name and opinions gained popularity, she became an untiring advocate for making Thanksgiving a national holiday. She wrote editorials and petitioned four different presidents over the course of 36 years, until Abraham Lincoln finally proclaimed the last Thursday of November a holiday in 1863. Generous, full-spread watercolor illustrations add humor and colorful details about costume, home, publishing, and political life during this period. Libraries that own Laurie Halse Anderson's Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving (S & S, 2002) will still want this fresh, accessible offering.--Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY

[Page 89]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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