CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number . . . . November 10, 2017
If You're Thankful and You Know It resembles the “If You're Happy and You Know It” nursery rhyme. This parallel provokes a sing-songy feel when reading this book – you just can't help but sing along! Although the rhyme scheme seems to restrict the authors, Chrissy Bozik and Patricia Storms, in terms of content, the rhyme scheme in this book makes reading fun, especially for young readers. The rhyme really draws readers in and keeps them flipping the page to find out what they can sing next.
There isn't a typical story line or plot in If You're Thankful.... The authors seem to aim to teach children about being thankful around Thanksgiving. The book does an excellent job at indirectly encouraging children to stop and think about everything for which they are thankful. The book doesn't once state the word “thanksgiving” nor does it seem lesson oriented to readers. I think these aspects of the book are very critical because it shows children that they aren't limited to only October, or around the Thanksgiving period, to be thankful. Apart from one of the final pages where a family is gathered around the dinner table and readers are being encouraged to gobble up turkey in October with their families, the rest of the book is based on everyday fall activities, things like playing hockey, watching birds fly south, and raking leaves. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the book because it reminds children that we can be thankful for everything we are able to do in a normal day, rather than just the special Thanksgiving related activities like eating.
If You're Thankful... also encourages readers to appreciate, and pay attention to, nature. The illustrations include a squirrel, a raccoon, and another rodent-looking creature on almost every single page. Most of the time, these animals aren't the main focus of the illustration, but they are almost always present. As an animal-lover myself, I really enjoyed that animals were a staple in this book even if they weren't mentioned in the text. The cartoon animals are portrayed as cute and friendly which is very interesting because most of the portrayed animals are commonly perceived as being pests in everyday life. The indirect message here is that we can be thankful for things even if we don't always enjoy them - even certain pesky animals. The final page in the book is just a simple illustration with the animals enjoying a turkey dinner outside the humans' house which further represents the idea that we must respect and be grateful for all animals. They have families and lives too.
The fact that If You're Thankful... doesn't have a plot or any main characters (other than the few present in the illustrations) is what really intrigued me. It was a very different take on a children's picture book, but a very effective one! This approach allows readers to not get too wrapped up in the story belonging to the book’s characters while allowing them to still make connections with the content of the book and their own lives. Young readers will interpret the main message of the book (being thankful) as applying to their own lives much more easily than they would if there were characters mentioned in the story. If You're Thankful... actually challenges readers to make their own connections and think of other things that aren't mentioned in the book, things in their own lives for which they can be thankful.
Melissa Toby is a student at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, BC, pursuing her career as a teacher.