Monday, March 2, 2015

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving

Laurie Halse Anderson has been making some noise in the YA lit world for years thanks to her passion for discussing tough topics so that young people know they are not alone in their struggles.  Did you know that she also writes picture books?

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving is the story of Sarah Hale's (Anderson's ancestor, BTW) thirty-eight year campaign to have Thanksgiving become a national holiday.  Hale accomplished a great deal in her lifetime.  She was an author, magazine editor, teacher, publisher, and proponent of playgrounds, education for girls, and historical monuments.  She also wrote the song, "Mary Had a Little Lamb" when a lamb followed a student to school and waited outside all day for it's owner.  She raised five children on her own after her husband passed away while she was pregnant with their fifth child.  Superhero, indeed.

The text is conversational, interesting, and easy to follow, so younger readers will stay with it.  The information is well-researched, one of Anderson's strengths.  Be sure to read the Feast of Facts at the end of the book to learn more Thanksgiving, Sarah, and U.S. History during her lifetime. The messages are unmistakable and meaningful - one person can make a difference, the pen is mightier than the sword - but the star of this show is the illustrations by Matt Faulkner.  They sweep through the early history of our country with both detail and simplicity, leaving lasting images in the reader's mind.

This pair also teamed up to write and illustrate Independent Dames, another nonfiction book for young readers that is worthy of your time.  Anderson has also written several other picture books and and the Vet Volunteer series is aimed at young readers as well.

I had the opportunity to hear Anderson speak at BYU's Books for Young Readers Symposium several years ago.  She is charismatic and fervent in her desire to use her talents to not only entertain her readers, but provide hope and courage to those suffering in difficult situations - abuse, eating disorders, rape, bullying, etc...  and has written some heartfelt and heavy-hitting books to address these topics.

I highly recommend her young adult books, especially for young adults and teens who may be in need of some bibliotherapy, but parents of teens should read ahead of time to determine if they feel the content is appropriate for their teen - she deals with substantial issues in straightforward and sensitive ways.

Anderson is another fan-friendly author - she accepts friend requests on Facebook, writes a blog, and keeps her website up-to-date.

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