Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation

What It Is

Telling the story of Thanksgiving is as much a tradition as is turkey and stuffing. When twins Liz and Lenny visit their grandmother for Thanksgiving, they dress up in authentic Pilgrim attire of the early 1600s, close their eyes, and are magically transported to Plymouth, New England (the state of Massachusetts was not yet established).

Through the twin’s narration and conversations with the Pilgrims, we learn many interesting historical facts about their culture, environment and people. We also see how extremely tough life was as Liz, Lenny and their grandmother pitch in to help with the daily chores and harvest. Once the harvest is complete, the Pilgrims invite Squanto, Massasoit and the Wampanoag tribe to enjoy a celebratory feast which they called a “harvest festival.” The festival lasted three days and, like a modern Thanksgiving, involved many different dishes along with laughter and good times. After the harvest festival, the twins and their grandmother “return” home to their own Thanksgiving feast. In a fun twist, Lenny’s mom questions his shoes, which are still on his feet from their trip to Plymouth!

Why It’s Fun

Americans have been eating turkey and all the trimmings at Thanksgiving for generations and we assume that this was the Pilgrim’s menu. When in actuality, it was not, and the first two pages of the book present a “then” and “now” look at what was served. Diane Stanley’s storytelling method is both fun and effective for a children’s historical book. She also does a great job of gently relaying the rigors of the early settlers to children, who I’d bet will feel pretty grateful for all they have today after reading this story. There are many “claims” as to when and who celebrated the first Thanksgiving, and Ms. Stanley’s author’s note gives us more details about the different myths. She directs us to Plimoth Plantation’s web site,, which is also fun to check out with the kids.

Who’s Going To Love It

If you love Thanksgiving, you will love this book. Even preschoolers can comprehend the basics of the Thanksgiving story, so if your child can sit through the story and won’t be confused by the conversation bubbles, there’s no reason to wait until the publisher’s recommended age of five. I can’t remember how long we’ve had our copy, but I can tell that we’ve read it so many times that it’s falling apart!

Reading Time

About 6-7 minutes when reading just the narrative
About 12-13 minutes when reading narrative and conversation bubbles

Read-It-Again Points

9 out of 10

Book Information

Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation
By: Diane Stanley; Illustrated by Holly Berry
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers (2004)
Approximate retail price: $16.99 (hardcover); $6.95 (paperback via Scholastic)
Publisher’s recommended ages: 5 - 8


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