Sarah Gives Thanks
Illustrated by David Gardner
Albert Whitman & Company, 2012
From the dust jacket, “Thanksgiving was not always a national holiday. One hundred and fifty years ago, many Americans didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving at all! To Sarah Josepha Hale, a trailblazing writer and magazine editor, Thanksgiving was an important time to recognize the good things in life. She felt every American should celebrate this special day, and she was going to do whatever it took to make Thanksgiving an official holiday, even if that meant going all the way to the top—to the President of the United States!”
This historical picture book tells the story of Thanksgiving, not the pilgrims-Native American version but how it became a national holiday. Sarah Josepha Hale was an amazing woman who supported her 5 children through writing after her husband died in 1822. She never remarried and started her writing career with a few small works of poetry and, over time, worked her way to becoming the editor of one of the largest women’s magazines of her day. As editor, each year she would write about Thanksgiving, what it meant to her and why everyone in the country should celebrate it and gradually the public began to agree with her. It took her 36 years and 4 presidents before Abraham Lincoln agreed with her and on October 3, 1863 – smack dab in the middle of the Civil War – Thanksgiving became an official holiday to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.
All of this history was new to me and I enjoyed learning about it. When famous women come to mind, Sarah Josepha Hale is nowhere near the top of the list. But she should be – she was ahead of her time, intelligent, a savvy business woman and her refusal to be turned away from her dream has influenced countless of generations after her. The book is well written, well researched and beautifully illustrated with soft watercolor paintings.
Reviewer: Simon the Thanksgiving Cat