Celebrate Thanksgiving with Albert Whitman & Company!

This Thanksgiving, take time to remember all the things that really matter: family, friends, good food, and great books. Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving books from the Albert Whitman collection. Stuffed with fun, these heartwarming tales are sure to leave you hungry for more.

It’s Thanksgiving, Chloe Zoe! (New Release!)

Jane Smith

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Chloe Zoe is on another adventure and this time Grammy Ella is here to help! Together, they are making Thanksgiving pie. Chloe Zoe gets all the spices for the filling, but when she accidentally uses the wrong ones the pie doesn’t taste the way it should. Grammy Ella reminds Chloe Zoe that Thanksgiving is about more than just food, it’s about being together as a family. Catch Chloe Zoe and her friends in their other books as well!

 

Sarah Gives Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday

Mike Allegra

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Ever wonder how Thanksgiving got its start? Even devoted Thanksgiving celebrants might not know this chapter of its interesting history: in the nineteenth century, Sarah Josepha Hale campaigned for this important day to become a national holiday. A writer and women’s magazine editor, Hale was groundbreaking in more ways than one. Paired with David Gardner’s beautiful watercolor illustrations, Hale’s memorable story is sure to inspire readers of all ages.

 

Duck for Turkey Day (New in Paperback!)

Jacqueline Jules

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Come back to the modern age and see just how far our favorite holiday has come! Tuyet can’t believe that her family is having duck instead of turkey for Thanksgiving. She’s even more surprised when she finds out that she enjoys it! Back at school on Monday, everyone is talking about their Thanksgiving meals. From roast beef to enchiladas, everyone celebrated Thanksgiving in their own unique way. A celebration of diversity in America, this book is a perfect fit both at home and in school.

 

This is the Turkey

Abby Levine

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In the festive sequel to This is the Pumpkin, Max is back to celebrate Thanksgiving. As he and his sisters begin preparing all the Thanksgiving treats, more friends and relatives come to join the party. Soon, all sorts of new dishes and traditions are being passed around. Readers will want to return to this fun, rhyming book every Thanksgiving season.

 

Not This Turkey!

Jessica Steinberg

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After Mel’s father wins a live turkey from work, he decides that this year they will celebrate Thanksgiving for the very first time. Mel has lived in America for years, but his family has only ever celebrated the Jewish holidays. Mel can’t wait for the new holiday. There’s only one problem: Mel really likes this turkey! Steinberg’s hilarious story is a must-have for this holiday season.

 

Happy Thanksgiving! Plus, get a jump on the winter holidays by checking out more of our holiday books here.

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Celebrate Thanksgiving with Albert Whitman & Company!

Author Insight with Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton

Maple syrup season is here! In Maple Syrup from the Sugarhouse by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton and illustrated by Kathryn Mitter, Kelsey and her father begin harvesting sap from sugar maple trees. Family and friends join them to help in the process of turning the sap into maple syrup.

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Author Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton walks us through her experience making maple syrup:

I was in second grade the first time I made maple syrup. We were living in a suburb of Detroit. We decided we were going to make maple syrup from the maple trees in our yard.

My father drilled a hole and then tapped a copper pipe into the side of a huge maple tree. We placed my mother’s pasta pan below to gather the sap. When the pan filled we took it into the house and began boiling. We kept gathering more sap, and boiling.

We didn’t know that it took 40-50 gallons of sap to make syrup. We also didn’t think about all that steam filling our home.  Hours later our windows were dripping with sweat, and we weren’t any closer to having syrup. What we did have was sweetened water. My mom decided to use the water to make corn beef.

I was 35 when we bought our farm in Medina, Ohio. The first fall we delighted in the beauty of the maple trees dropping their red, yellow, orange, leaves.  My husband decided we were going to tap the trees in the spring. In the meantime he located a hobbyist 55 gallon drum/evaporator, some spiles, and buckets. He built a rustic sugar-house-lean-to smack dab in the middle of the woods. Then we started stockpiling wood during the fall and winter.

We waited all winter for the right spring weather, above freezing days and freezing nights. Finally, the weather provided us with our first run. We were excited and very busy! My husband, our two daughters, and I worked all day and into the night for three days straight. Soon, our family and friends found out what we were up to and came to see and help. When we finished the season, we were overjoyed and tired. We had three runs that year and bottled 18 gallons of syrup.

Every year after that we grew: more buckets, more syrup, more friends and family. Then we decided to build a larger sugar house at the edge of the sugar bush. The great part of that was we finally had bathrooms! (Trudging through the woods to get to our home’s bathroom was hard for older people and children—and even me too sometimes!)

We purchased a larger evaporator. Now maple syrup season is a regular event for all our friends and family. Every summer and fall we cut wood and stack it next to the sugar house. We buy bottles and jugs to fill. We make sure our spiles and buckets are clean and the paths are clear through the sugar bush. When the winter winds blow, we sit inside enjoying our syrup from last season. We pour it over our pancakes, waffles, cornbread, ice cream. We put it in our coffee, add it to our pork chops, and sometimes just slurp a spoonful. When our jugs are just about empty, it’s spring time again! We don our jackets, boots, gloves and set out to the sugar bush to make some more sweet maple syrup.

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Thanks so much, Laurie! To find out more about Maple Syrup from the Sugarhouse, check out our website.

Author Insight with Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton

Halloween Reads for Your Trick-or-Treaters

You don’t have to be tricky to get these treats! Celebrate Halloween with Albert Whitman books featuring our favorite spooky holiday. From lessons in bravery to costume inspiration, these playful stories are a must-have for young readers preparing for Halloween! Check out some of our other seasonal reads on our website here.

 

It’s Halloween, Chloe Zoe! (New Release!)

Jane Smith

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Follow Chloe Zoe, Mary Margaret, and George as they venture into their transformed neighborhood on Halloween! When Chloe Zoe notices a particularly spooky house down the street, she feels a little scared. But, with her Dad, all her friends, and a bag full of Halloween treats, of course, Chloe Zoe learns to be brave. For even more Halloween fun, download printable activity sheets and check out more of Chloe Zoe’s holiday adventures on our site!

 

Trick Arrr Treat (New in Paperback!)

Leslie Kimmelman

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The best part of Halloween is dressing up, and these pirates are taking their costumes very seriously. Join Charlotte Blue-Tongue, Peg-Leg Pete, Glass-Eyed Gabby, and their pirate friends on their quest for Halloween loot! As the children trick or treat, their imaginations carry them from their neighborhood to their very own pirate’s lagoon. Can the pirates protect their treasure through the night?

 

The Ghosts Go Haunting

Helen Ketteman

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A parade of Halloween creatures marches through the school in this festive story. The teachers are frightened, but the students play along with the Halloween gang and their hijinks. Set to the counting tune of The Ants Go Marching, this playful book will keep readers glued to the page from cover to cover.

 

Skeleton for Dinner

Margery Cuyler

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Big Witch and Little Witch are having a dinner party and everyone in the haunted forest is invited! When Skeleton mistakes the guest list for a menu, he thinks that he’s cooked for sure. Spooked, Ghost and Ghoul join him and all three creatures take off running. Will anyone be able to sort out the misunderstanding?

 

What Am I? Halloween

Anne Margaret Lewis

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This interactive book has all the features of classic Halloween fun. Hints and pictures under flaps guide young readers through a guessing game of seasonal symbols. Perfect for story time, this look-and-see book will have everyone excited for Halloween.

 

Pumpkin Jack

Will Hubbel

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Halloween is over, but Tim isn’t ready to say goodbye to Jack, his carefully carved pumpkin. Instead, he puts it in the garden and waits. This beautifully illustrated book follows the life cycle of the pumpkin plant, bringing new hope and growth to Halloween traditions.

 

To fill your cauldrons with more books about Halloween, visit our website.

Halloween Reads for Your Trick-or-Treaters

Q&A with Jane Smith

Chloe Zoe is a sweet young elephant who loves celebrating the holidays and trying new things! Along with her friends Mary Margaret the crocodile and George the giraffe, Chloe Zoe learns important lessons about getting along with friends, enjoying new experiences, and most of all, having fun! Join Chloe Zoe on two new adventures this season, It’s Halloween, Chloe Zoe! and It’s Thanksgiving, Chloe Zoe!

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We were lucky enough to sit down with author-illustrator Jane Smith to chat about inspiration, holiday celebrations, and the Chloe Zoe series.

Q: What was your inspiration for your title?

A: It’s Halloween, Chloe Zoe! is inspired by the classic childhood experience of being “scared of the creepy house down the street.” I know I certainly had a house like that on my block growing up! I was too creeped out to knock on the door during Girl Scout cookie selling season, let alone in the dark on Halloween night!! Chloe Zoe is braver than I was! (But, of course, it always helps to have awesome friends like Mary Margaret and George!!)

It’s Thanksgiving, Chloe Zoe! is inspired by a favorite family Thanksgiving memory. When my nephew was very small—about 2-3 years old—he really, really, really wanted to decorate the holiday pumpkin pie with rainbow sprinkles. And so, my sister let him go for it! The pie looked super gross, covered in melty sprinkles, and tasted kinda funny, too, but it was super awesome nonetheless. Just as Chloe Zoe and Grammy Ella discover, it’s all about just being together, making funny, happy memories.

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Q: What makes your books stand out?

A: The whole Chloe Zoe picture book series, including the two newest titles, It’s Halloween, Chloe Zoe! and It’s Thanksgiving, Chloe Zoe!, stand out because they speak directly to kids’ very real experiences in the world and honors their emotional reactions to those experiences. This is so meaningful to young kids as they grow and begin making sense of their world and their place in it.

Q: What comes first—text or art?

A: For me, it depends—sometimes a manuscript comes first and sometimes an illustration of a character does and sometimes they kind of just happen together.

In the case of Chloe Zoe, she and her friends began as collage spot art paired with a very short story about the first day of preschool, originally designed as a novelty board book! The creative team at Albert Whitman saw this and was inspired to envision a whole picture book series—Chloe Zoe!

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Q: What’s the easiest and hardest part of creating a book?

A: For me, the easiest part of creating a book is coming up with ideas and characters. Those always come out of playing with art materials and enjoying everyday life. (I’m pretty much inspired by everything from a walk at the beach to hanging out with my kiddo to eating out at a fabulous restaurant to traveling to new places to everything else in-between).

The hardest part, for me, is the sketch stage. This is when the manuscript is really solid and it’s time to make the plan for the whole visual experience of the book. It requires a lot of thinking and paying close attention to details, working to really enhance the narrative that is in the text and being diligent about consistency. And often it also includes a lot of erasing and stopping and starting all over again!!

But it’s all worth it, because when the sketches are fully thought out and are as solid as the text, it makes creating the final art so much more fun! The pressure is off because there is a plan that you can trust!

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Q: What was the process of working with your editor like?

A: It has been a dream! Over the course of creating the Chloe Zoe series, which currently includes six titles, I have had the pleasure of working with two different, but equally fabulous, editors and the superstar art director, Jordan Kost. All of them have given me a lot of freedom to bring my vision of Chloe Zoe and her world to life, all the while providing support and direction along the way.

With each title, my editor gave me a holiday or a big moment, like the first day of kindergarten, from which to begin. I would draft a manuscript with loose, rough thumbnails and we’d noodle it from there. Sometimes, a book came together quickly, while others required a lot of back and forth. Through the process, the manuscript would get tighter and more concise, while the art would become realized first through sketches and then through final art. It was amazing to see how each title finally came together as one complete, exciting package!

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Q: What books did you like to read as a kid? What type of books do you like to read now?

A: I loved reading as a kid! My favorite book when I was little was Watch Out for Chicken Feet in Your Soup by Tomie de Paolo, and my second favorite book was the Russian folktale, Baba Yaga. I was lucky enough to have a librarian for a mom, so our house was always filled with books, books, books!

These days I love scary, creepy books and read a lot of mysteries, thrillers and horror stories! And I am also obsessed with magazines—National Geographic, Yoga Journal, Vegetarian Times, and more!

 

Thanks so much Jane! Find out more about the whole Chloe Zoe series—and download fun activities to go along with each book—over at our website. Join Chloe Zoe for fun adventures this Halloween and Thanksgiving!

Q&A with Jane Smith

Q&A with Ronald Kidd

Ronald Kidd has written several books for Albert Whitman, but it’s his latest novel, Room of Shadows, that is perfect for Halloween. Here’s a brief synopsis: Ever since his dad left, David Cray has had anger issues. So after he beats up school bully Jake Bragg, his mom grounds him in their creepy new house. Bored, David discovers a secret room with an old-fashioned desk, a chest, and a carving of a raven. Suddenly he’s having strange dreams about the room and the house, and violence seems to follow him wherever he goes. Who is the Raven who is taking responsibility for these violent pranks? And why do the pranks resemble Poe’s stories?

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We were lucky enough to chat with Ronald about Edgar Allan Poe, writing children’s books, and Room of Shadows.

Q. What inspired you to write about Edgar Allan Poe?

A. Poe was amazing! He invented three genres: mysteries 50 years before Arthur Conan Doyle, science fiction 50 years before Jules Verne, and horror 100 years before H.P. Lovecraft. He lived so long ago that when he was born, Thomas Jefferson was president.

But what fascinated me the most about Poe was his death, which itself was a mystery. Found in a Baltimore tavern, sick and incoherent, Poe was taken to a hospital, where he died muttering the word “Reynolds.” That’s all we know. It was a sad, squalid death. I decided to resurrect Poe, take him to modern-day Baltimore, and give him the glorious death he deserved. The result was Room of Shadows.

Q. How does Poe come back to life?

A. Ah, but you see, he never died. Using a method he discovered when researching his horror stories, Poe suspended himself between life and death, where he ended up trapped for 150 years. Then one day, in a rickety house with a secret room, his spirit is summoned by the anger of a young man named David Cray. Just a quick preview: When Poe returns, David isn’t the only one who’s angry.

Q. You write in so many different genres. How do you decide which one to work in next?

A. I love reading about music, history, sports, all kinds of things. Typically I’ll stumble across something in a book, and it will send me spinning off into a story. So I guess you could say that I don’t pick the genre; it picks me. With Poe, I had thought I would write a historical novel and was surprised to find I was writing a horror story.

Q. Why write children’s books?

A. I once read that we’re shaped by what happens when we’re thirteen—no longer children but not yet adults, in that awkward and exciting time when we become ourselves. It was that way for me, and it’s that way for my characters. We meet them at a turning point, faced with a decision or a crisis that crowds in on them, grabs their attention, and forces them to act. It’s that way for Billie with the Freedom Riders in Night on Fire, Callie and Jeremy and their rigid dystopian world in Dreambender, Frances and the Scopes Trial in Monkey Town. I guess in some way, deep down inside where writers live and work, I’ll always be thirteen.

Q. Are you working on any other projects?

A. Funny you should ask. I’m just finishing up Lord of the Mountain, in which Nate Owens (yes, he’s thirteen) witnesses the birth of country music in 1927 in his hometown of Bristol, Tennessee. Nate’s father is a sad, wild-eyed preacher, and his mother hides a secret melody that drives Nate into the mountains, where he catches up with the Carter Family and uncovers his own family’s musical heritage.

Q. Writing is such a solitary activity. Do you really enjoy it?

A. The answer is an enthusiastic yes, for two reasons. (1) I’m not alone! I’m surrounded by my characters, and through them I experience colorful people and places. (2) When I write, I take my readers with me—the kids, parents, teachers, and wonderful librarians who enjoy my work and keep it alive. I love staying in touch with them through my books, website, Facebook page, and email newsletter.

Thanks so much, Ronald! To find out more about Room of Shadows and Ronald’s other novels, check out our website.

Q&A with Ronald Kidd

Q&A with Catherine Holt

Join Midnight Reynolds on her first adventure in Midnight Reynolds and the Spectral Transformer by Catherine Holt. When twelve year-old misfit Midnight Reynolds takes a job helping out eccentric Miss Appleby in the mansion down the street, she never imagined her work would involve battling ghosts. But as it turns out, Midnight and her new employer have quite a bit in common—they were both born on Halloween and have the power to see spirits of the dead. But when Midnight learns more about the history of her town, she starts to wonder if she’s fighting on the right side.

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We were lucky enough to sit down with Catherine Holt to chat about writing habits, ghosts, and the Midnight Reynolds series.

Q. What was your inspiration for your title?

A. I was toying around with a book idea when the name, Midnight Reynolds, popped into my head. I was immediately intrigued and started to try and figure out a plot worthy of such a cool name! That took some time, and during this process the book was called Midnight Reynolds and the Lost Librarium, Midnight Reynolds and the Emerald Tablet, and Midnight Reynolds and the Book of Life. However, it wasn’t until I finally decided to make Midnight a ghost hunter that I finally figured out the title (with the help of my agent!).

Q. Do you have a regular routine while creating a book?

A. No, my writing habits are very erratic. One week I can burn through the words like a crazy person and the next week I’ll be lucky if I can write a paragraph. Of course my love of watching Netflix can sometimes get in the way as well! In fact, I’m probably the reason that writing deadlines were invented, because if left to my own devices, not much would get done!

Q. What’s the easiest and hardest part of creating a book?

A. For me the easiest part is actually getting the idea and writing the blurb and the outline—probably because it doesn’t take long! As for the hardest part, it’s taking that outline and turning into a story that makes sense. I find about halfway through I end up in a real tangle of ideas and plot threads and then I have to spend far too long getting myself back on track.

Q. Why write children’s books?

A. The short answer is that I don’t think I’ve ever really grown up! I’ve always read YA and MG books (and watched the movies and TV shows) so writing for kids was a natural progression. And because I don’t do things by halves I’m also a children’s librarian, which really is as cool as it sounds! I think I love the genre so much because anything goes and because no one blinks if you bring in a zombie or two!

Q. Do you have any writing quirks?

A. I don’t have my own office—kids are so annoying how they want their own bedrooms. As a result I tend to do most of my writing wherever I can find a sunbeam (I think I was a cat in my previous life). In winter, that’s in the bedroom and in summer it’s somewhere in the garden. Oh, and there must be coffee, because who in their right mind would write a book without caffeine?

Q. Are you working on any other projects?

A. I’ve just finished the second Midnight book and am about to start book three, plus I also write romance and YA under another name and I’ve got a few books in the works there.

Q. What books did you like to read as a kid? What type of books do you like to read now?

A. When I was a kid I read everything I could get my hands on. My father was a huge Tolkien fan so I’d read The Hobbit by the time I was ten, along with many of his old favorites like Swallow and Amazons and William. I was also a huge Trixie Belden fan, along with Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and Three Investigators. Oh, and my all time favorite children’s book is the first three Earthsea books by Ursula Le Guin.

Q. Do you believe in ghosts?

A. Actually I do! I’ve always been fascinated by the supernatural and anything ghost related, and while I’m not sure that spirits look like what we see in the movies, I absolutely believe they exist. My husband grew up in a house that had a ghost and some of the stories he and my mother-in-law have told me were more than a little scary. Then again, I’m the wimpiest person in the world, so I am very easily scared!

Q. How do you like to celebrate Halloween?

A. Confession. I grew up in Australia and now live in New Zealand and traditionally Halloween isn’t such a big deal over here. When I was a kid no one did anything remotely related to Halloween, though over the last ten years, more and more people have embraced it. However, because it’s our spring time, and it doesn’t get dark until seven o’clock, some of the spookiness is lost in the blue skies and bright sunshine!

 

Thanks so much, Catherine. To join Midnight on her ghost-hunting adventures, check out our website.

Q&A with Catherine Holt

Q&A with Caroline Starr Rose

According to legend, Will Cody (later known as America’s greatest showman, Buffalo Bill) rode for the Pony Express at the age of fourteen. His most famous ride, recounted in the lyrical verse of Ride On, Will Cody! by Caroline Starr Rose and illustrated by Joe Lillington, covered 322 miles, required 21 horses, and took over 21 hours to complete.

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We were lucky enough to sit down with Caroline Starr Rose to talk about writing for children, historical fiction, and Ride On, Will Cody!

Q. What’s the easiest and hardest part of creating a book?

A. Drafting, the “something from nothing” phase, is always hardest for me. Setting limitations on my writing—rhythm, rhyme, and repetition in the case of Ride On, Will Cody!—actually helps me find my way into the work. Somehow knowing the structure and specific words to tell my story are out there for me to discover makes drafting less daunting. The writing becomes a puzzle with a solution I trust I can find, if only I jump in and explore.

Q. Why write children’s books?

A. So many reasons. First, children’s books are the ones that made me into a reader, the ones that often stir the most passionate bookish memories in readers of any age. I want to be a part of that. I also want my work to honor young people. It’s not often kids are told their experiences and emotions count. Children’s books validate. They allow readers to feel heard.

Sometimes well read and well-meaning grown ups ask if I’ll write for adults someday, as if writing for kids were somehow practice for more important work to come. Children’s books aren’t a means to an end. Kids don’t deserve second best. I want the best I have to offer to be for young readers. I can think of no higher privilege.

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Q. What makes your book stand out?

A. There are a handful wonderful picture books about the Pony Express: They’re Off!: The Story of the Pony Express, Whatever Happened to the Pony Express, and Off Like the Wind: The First Ride of the Pony Express come to mind. I wanted to write a book that went beyond the history and created an experience, that thrust the reader right into the ride alongside Will Cody. I hope readers feel energy, surprise, fatigue, and courage in the rhythm and movement of the words and art as they turn each page.

Q. Do you have any writing quirks?

A. Well, I always start picture books in a journal. Pencil only, please!

9780807570685_INT2Q. What interests you about historical fiction?

A. Historical fiction allows readers to see people of the past as fully human. Flawed and wonderful. Short-sighted and brave. Their experiences might have been different than ours, but their emotions and motivations are things we recognize in our own lives.

Historical fiction was my true entry point into understanding the past. It went deeper and wider than a handful of paragraphs in a textbook and made history come alive for me. I hope my writing might do the same!

 

Thanks so much, Caroline. To find out more about Ride On, Will Cody! check out our website.

Q&A with Caroline Starr Rose