Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Thanksgiving Visitor

If you read just one story this Thanksgiving, it should be Truman Capote's "The Thanksgiving Visitor." No, you won't learn much about the Pilgrims, the Indians, or how to bake a pumpkin pie, but you will be moved by the writing and events in this poignant tale. Perhaps you are familiar with Capote's "A Christmas Memory" and its protagonists, the young Buddy and his eccentric, elderly best friend and aunt Miss Sook. They are the center of this story as well. Buddy narrates, and with wonderful Southern turns of phrase describes their Thanksgiving preparations. He also describes the bullying he receives at the hands of Odd Henderson for being a sissy. It is almost unimaginable that Miss Sook invites Odd to Thanksgiving dinner. The conflict and disappointment that unfold are powerful. Miss Sook counsels Buddy that Odd "... can't help acting ugly; he doesn't know any different." Often at Thanksgiving, we focus on gratitude.This Thanksgiving tale also gets readers thinking about compassion and graciousness. It's a provocative and well written holiday read for children from eight up, especially if you can find the picture book illustrated with wistful paintings by Beth Peck.

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