Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman who saved Thanksgiving

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman who saved Thanksgiving

Laurie Halse Anderson
Illustrator:  Matt Faulkner 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 2002   ISBN: 978-0689847875

The story of Thanksgiving may appear to be a simple one involving starving Pilgrims and kindly Indians, and yet, there is in fact much more to it than that. In fact the American nation came very close to losing its very unique holiday altogether. Thanksgiving was not, in fact, all that popular a holiday in the past and it took the very hard work of one person to make sure that Thanksgiving did not become, like the Passenger Pigeon and the Dodo, extinct.

The hero of this story is a woman called Sarah Hale. She was a simple "dainty little lady" and certainly not the type of person one would not think of as a defender of causes. However, she chose to fight for many causes, big and small, and one of them was make Thanksgiving a national holiday. She appealed to the politicians and soon the states made Thanksgiving a holiday but that wasn't enough for Sarah. She still wanted a national holiday so she went to "the top," to the President himself. The problem was, the President was not interested. So, being a determined and patient person, Sarah waited for the next President, and the next and the next. In fact she had to wait until President Lincoln came to live in the White House before she found a sympathetic and understanding President who was willing to consider her proposition. The country was at war and needed something to pull it together. Lincoln decided to agree to Sarah request in 1863 and Sarah's thirty-eight year battle was over.

With wonderful, amusing illustrations and a lively, funny, and informative text this is a wonderful book to read during the days leading up to Thanksgiving. It is empowering and is especially suitable for girls, serving as a reminder that women have been able to do all sorts of extraordinary things for their country over the years. At the back of the book the reader will find a "Feast of Facts" which is full of fascinating information about Thanksgiving, American traditions, the Civil War, and Sara Hale's life.