The Great Thanksgiving Escape by Mark Fearing

The Great Thanksgiving Escape by Mark Fearing
Publisher: Candlewick
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

It’s another Thanksgiving at Grandma’s. Gavin expects a long, boring day full of pesky toddlers, but his cousin Rhonda has a different idea: make a break for it to the swing set in the backyard! Gavin isn’t so sure, especially when they encounter vicious guard dogs (in homemade sweaters), overly affectionate aunts, and worst of all, the great wall of butts. Can they avoid all the obstacles and find some fun before turkey time?

Sometimes there is such a thing as too much family togetherness.
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This picture book had an excellent sense of humour that was displayed in both the dialogue and descriptions of what the characters were doing next. I couldn’t stop chucking as I read it, especially when it came to the parts about Gavin and Rhonda dodging well-meaning but slightly overbearing relatives who hadn’t quite caught on yet that these two kids were trying to escape the loud, festive house where everyone was gathered for Thanksgiving.

The ending felt a bit abrupt to me. I would have liked to see more details about how the adults in this family reacted not only to Gavin and Rhonda’s secret plan to sneak past everyone but also to how their mission turned out. There was so much more room here to develop the plot and sneak in a few more jokes about what Thanksgiving is really like for kids who find it overstimulating.

Speaking of being overstimulated, I really enjoyed this book’s take on why Gavin and Rhonda were the only members of their large, extended family to react this way to a day of togetherness. It left plenty of room for multiple interpretations of their motives and why they both yearned for peace and quiet so strongly. This meant that I could read this to kids who are simply a little shy, kids who have official medical reasons for disliking noise and large crowds, and to kids who simply want to learn to be more empathetic when they meet someone who is different from them in some way. There truly was something here for everyone!

The Great Thanksgiving Escape was a heartwarming read that should be read by anyone who gets a little overwhelmed by large gatherings or wonders why some folks react that way.

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