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Gracias, the Thanksgiving turkey
1996
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Author Notes
Cassia Joy Cowley is a New Zealand language and reading specialist. She was born on August 7, 1936, in Levin, New Zealand. <p> She has written more than 500 books for beginning readers, many of which have been honored internationally. The Cheese Trap won the AIM Children's Book Award for Best Picture Book (1996) and Red-Eyed Tree Frog won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Best Picture Book (1999). She has won New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards for Best Junior Fiction for Ticket to the Sky Dance (1998) and Starbright and the Dream Eater (1999). The Mouse Bride (1998) is being produced as an animated program for New Zealand television. <p> In 2002, Cowley was awarded the Roberta Long Medal, presented by the University of Alabama at Birmingham for culturally diverse children's literature. In 2004, she was awarded the A. W. Reed Award for Contribution to New Zealand Literature, and in 2010, she won the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in the Fiction category. She is also a 2016 Astrid Lindgren award nominee. In 2018 she will be awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit and also shortlisted for The Hans Christian Andersen Award. She was also awarded the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for her her title Nicketty-Nacketty, Noo-Noo-Noo in 2018. She was awarded the 2018 Order of New Zealand, which recognises outstanding service to the state and people of the country. <p> (Bowker Author Biography)
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Trade Reviews

  Publishers Weekly Review

Miguel has two worries about Thanksgiving: Will his Papa, a trucker, make it home in time? And will his pet turkey become the entree? This crackling tale is set in New York City, where Gracias, the turkey, takes walks on a leash, is stolen, recovered and, when blessed by a priest, is thankfully deemed unroastable. Cepeda (The Cat's Meow) captures the story's sunny disposition with gaily composed, Latin-flavored oil paintings. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

  School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2-Miguel, a Puerto Rican boy in New York City, receives a surprise package from his absentee truck-driving father-a gigantic wooden crate with the message: "Fatten this turkey for Thanksgiving. I'll be home to share it with you. Love from Papá." What ensues is a humorous story of Miguel's increasing attachment to the bird he nicknames Gracias. His new amiga follows him everywhere, even to Mass. Will Miguel be able to save Gracias from being seasoned and cooked? Can Papá make it home in time for the holidays? This picture book, illustrated with colorful oil paintings, offers a heartwarming narrative that captures the boy's close-knit sense of community and family.-Selene S. Vasquez, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

Ages 3-7. Little Miguel lives in a New York City apartment with his grandparents and his aunt, while his truck-driving father is on the road. Papa sends Miguel a turkey to fatten for Thanksgiving, but the boy names the bird Gracias and loves him as a pet. As the holiday approaches, Gracias' fate looms darkly over the festivities. However, when Gracias follows Miguel to church and receives Padre Jaime's blessing, even Abuelo and Abuela concede that they must have chicken for Thanksgiving, because "no one can eat a turkey that's been blessed." Cowley creates a distinctive, modern setting for the old theme of a turkey who sits at rather than on the Thanksgiving table. Although city life is not idealized (at one point a thief steals Gracias), most of the neighbors in Miguel's multiethnic community take a friendly interest in the boy and his bird. The inclusion of Spanish words within the text is handled well, with most meanings evident from the context, but a short glossary also appears on the last page. Cepeda's oil paintings, reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats' illustrations, vividly create Miguel's colorful, sympathetic community as well as individual characters. (Reviewed Sept. 1, 1996)0590469762Carolyn Phelan

  Horn Book Review

Although his neighbors' mouths water at the thought of a turkey feast on Thanksgiving Day, Miguel befriends Gracias, a live turkey he receives from his often-absent father. Miguel cannot bear the thought of having turkey for dinner, so Abuelo suggests an alternative that makes everyone happy. Spanish words sprinkled throughout the dialogue and oil paintings marked by solid blocks of vivid hues complement this alternative to more traditional Thanksgiving stories. Glos. From HORN BOOK 1996, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Summary
When Papa sends Miguel a turkey to fatten up for Thanksgiving, the two end up becoming best friends. With its colorful illustrations, this heartwarming story of a Puerto Rican family in a close-knit neighborhood will inspire readers to give thanks for family, friendship, and community. Text copyright 2004 Lectorum Publications, Inc.
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