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“So each one gave thanks / For love and for living, / And they all had a wonderful / Happy Thanksgiving. – ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving
‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving
by Dav Pilkey
AR Test, Picture Book
4 - 8
The day before Thanksgiving, students go on a field trip to a “miniature farm.” Farmer Mac Nuggett shows the kids his “eight tiny turkeys.” The kids play and hug the turkeys “and they gobbled and giggled / As friends sometimes do.” One of the children finds an ax, and Farmer Nuggett explains that the turkeys will be “chopped up and roasted / For Thanksgiving feast.” When the children hear this, they begin to cry. When the teacher and Farmer Nuggett go to fetch some water, the kids hide the turkeys under their shirts. When the kids and the turkeys are safely home, “They feasted on veggies / with jelly and toast, / And everyone was thankful / (The turkeys were most!).
Using a similar format as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Pilkey tells an odd tale about the day before Thanksgiving. While the full page illustrations use cartoonish illustrations, the end of the poem takes on a grim tone. When Farmer Nuggett shows the kids his ax, he has a creepy smile on his face. Both the kids and the turkeys are clearly distressed by the thought of the turkeys becoming Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of being humorous, younger readers may find the story distressing.
Unfortunately, ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving does not have any of the charm as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. The author also adds in bits of other fairytales, which breaks up the story’s flow. Each page has 2-8 short lines; however, the rhyming is inconsistent. Even though the story has a happy ending, it doesn’t focus on being thankful for all the good in life.
The picture book is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for a child to read it for the first time independently. Readers who are looking for a good holiday story should skip ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving.
- The students go to a farm and one of the kids “spotted / An ax by the door, / And she asked Farmer Nuggett / what it was for. . . The old farmer told / A grim tale of dread. . . These feather beast / Will be chopped up and roasted / For Thanksgiving feast.” To save the turkeys from being killed, the kids birdnap them.
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