Diane Prather: ‘The Memory Cupboard: A Thanksgiving Story’
November 20, 2009
Craig — Traditionally, family members always have traveled to grandma's house for Thanksgiving. Katie, the main character in this week's book for children, thinks there's nothing like Thanksgiving at her grandma's house.
"The Memory Cupboard: A Thanksgiving Story" was written by Charlotte Herman and illustrated by Ben F. Stahl.
In this picture book story, Grandma lives "east of the Mississippi," so it takes two nights and a day for the family to get there by train. Uncle Eddie, Mom's brother, meets Katie's family at the Westport Station, and by the time they reach Grandma's house, it is snowing.
What a lot of family is there to greet Katie and her parents. There is Great-Uncle Bernie, great-aunts Barbara and Laura and Aunt Ruth. Baby Davy is asleep in Aunt Ruth's arms. And, of course, there's Grandma, smelling of spices and cinnamon.
Katie, who appears to be about 8 years of age, follows Grandma into the kitchen. She finds the pictures and letters that she's sent to Grandma all during the year. They're taped up right on the kitchen wall. Grandma says that's how she keeps track of Katie between phone calls and visits.
Katie's job is to ring a small glass bell to announce that Thanksgiving dinner is all ready. Grandma sets the turkey down on the table, and Uncle Eddie carves the meat. As he does, Uncle Eddie notices that Grandma hasn't used the old turkey platter. When he asks about it, Grandma just says that she decided it was time for a change. (The absence of the turkey platter is a hint of what's to come later in the story.)
Grandma serves the gravy in a white gravy boat with blue flowers around the edge. Grandma says that Katie's mother and Uncle Eddie bought it for her when they were children.
After dinner and the family tradition of singing "Over The River and Through the Woods," it's time to clear the table for dessert. Katie picks up the gravy bowl, but it slips to the floor and breaks into pieces. Katie bursts into tears. But Grandma just takes Katie's hand and leads her upstairs to a little guest bedroom.
There beside the window is an old white cupboard. Grandma takes a brass key down off a hook and opens the cupboard. Katie is amazed at what's inside. It's a Thanksgiving that Katie will always remember.
Author Charlotte Herman was inspired to write the book when she saw a bread shaped like a turkey in a bakery. Ben Stahl is an award-winning artist who has illustrated several books for children. The paintings for this book were done in acrylic on board.
"The Memory Cupboard: A Thanksgiving Story" is published by Albert Whitman & Company, 2003. The book costs $16.95. It can also be found at the Moffat County Library.
What fun it would be to read this book to your children each Thanksgiving!
Copyright Diane Prather, 2009.