In anticipation of Thanksgiving next week, we’re reading three fantastic picture books that celebrate community and generosity!
Good Morning, Neighbor by Davide Cali, illustrated by Maria Dek (Princeton Architectural Press; ages 4-8)
Mouse wants an omelet but has no eggs; perhaps his neighbor has one to share? No, but there’s flour which could be used with an egg to make a cake. Does dormouse have an egg? No, but there’s butter to add to the flour and egg. And so it goes until the generosity of 8 different neighbors combine to make a delicious apple and cinnamon cake. But how many slices should they cut? 7 animals added an ingredient, so they obviously get a slice. Owl provided the oven, so she gets a slice. But what did mouse do? In the end, the friends agree that without mouse’s initiative there would be no cake to slice, and slicing a cake into 9 pieces isn’t so hard after all.
Charming illustrations and a fairytale-paced story make this a magical read about the value of generosity and community. The concrete contributions of each neighbor are easy to value, but it can be difficult to appreciate less tangible goods like conception of an idea, organization of a team, and oversight of a plan. This book reminds readers that not all contributions look the same, but each should be valued equally in its own right. Overall, this is a lovely addition to any library and we love it more with each read.
Special note: If you are enamored with Maria Dek’s art like me, you’ll be excited to hear that she sells originals during the holidays! You can find more information on her Instagram account: @Maria.Dek
Porcupine’s Pie by Laura Renauld, illustrated by Jennie Poh (Beaming Books; ages 4-8)
It’s Fall Feast Day and Porcupine is off to collect cranberries for her Famous Cranberry Pie. Along the way she encounters friends and asks after their feast day preparations. Each friend has a problem: they cannot make their traditional recipes for lack of a key ingredient. Porcupine readily offers to share with each, and by the end of the day she doesn’t have enough ingredients for her own recipe. Gratefully, all her friends have brought their surplus to share and it’s just the right ingredients to make a Friendship Pie!
These adorable friends and their sweet tale teach readers that generosity begets generosity and there’s nothing as bountiful as friendship. It’s easy to appreciate that sharing with a neighbor is an act of kindness. But there’s special value to the act of asking after a friend and offering to help before being asked. It’s this generosity of spirit that makes Porcupine so special and such a good friend. Overall, this is a wonderful read for remembering that kindness is at the heart of friendship, generosity and community. BONUS: There’s a recipe for Porcupine’s delicious Friendship Pie in the back!
Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman (Margaret K. McElderry Books; ages 3-8)
Bear wants to share a feast with his friends, but finds his cupboards are bare. When each of his friends arrives with food to share, Bear says “Thanks,” but finds his gratitude is overshadowed by distress that he has no food to share with them. With a gentle reminder that he has stories to share, the friends tell Bear that his friendship is enough. And in the end, they enjoy a wonderful pot-luck feast in Bear’s den.
Warm illustrations and a delightful rhyme scheme make this a wonderful read about the value of friendship and giving thanks. And this story is an excellent way to teach that hosting friends and creating an environment that encourages community is also an act of generosity. When we read this, we talk about how not everyone has material goods on hand to share, but everyone has something to give to a community; and contributions of time and energy are equally valuable. Overall, this book is a great addition to any library and will be re-read many times!