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'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving Hardcover – September 1, 1990

4.6 out of 5 stars 120 customer reviews

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Hardcover, September 1, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Patterned as a parody of the celebrated Clement Moore poem, this story of eight baby turkeys unfolds with joyous abandon and crackling vitality, as eight children embark on a Thanksgiving field trip that will change their lives forever. They are breathless as they catch sight of Farmer Mack Nuggett for the first time: "He was dressed all in denim, / From his head to his toe, / With a pinch of polyester / And a dash of Velcro." The exuberant turkeys--Ollie, Stanley, Larry, Moe, Wally, Beaver and Groucho--catch the children up in raucous barnyard antics until the merriment is quelled by the sight of the ax. Deeply touched by the turkeys' plight, the children--who have grown mysteriously fatter and have feathers sticking out from under their clothes--board the bus to go back to the city. The next night, family silhouettes can be seen--each with a grateful turkey guest--as "They feasted on veggies / With jelly and toast." This humorous, lighthearted story is adorned with bold, bright illustrations that convey a sense of wacky high-spiritedness sometimes lacking in traditional holiday fare. Ages 4-7.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Pilkey has adapted Clement Moore's classic poem for another holiday. The day before Thanksgiving finds eight boys and girls of various races taking a field trip to a turkey farm. Although Farmer Mack Nuggett seems kind at first, the children eventually discover his horrible plan to kill the turkeys for Thanksgiving dinners. Smuggling the turkeys home with them, the children save the birds, who join eight families for vegetarian dinners. The weakest part of this slapstick offering is the verse, in part because the story isn't at all parallel to Moore's and in part because of the stretches in rhyme to accommodate a pre-existing pattern. Some of the word play will escape children. Similarly, visual humor such as the placement of Farmer Nuggett and the teacher in an "American Gothic" pose will remain unappreciated by those too young for Grant Wood. The cartoon illustrations reinforce the story's general silliness but are unremarkable in themselves. Those seeking Thanksgiving humor will better served by Marc Brown's Arthur's Thanksgiving (Little, 1983), while those looking for a human-turkey relationship should dust off Lorna Balian's Sometimes It's Turkey, Sometimes It's Feathers (Abingdon, 1986). --Kathy Piehl, Mankato State University, MN
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 and up
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc. (September 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0531059057
  • ISBN-13: 978-0531059050
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 10.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #899,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving follows the rhythm of Twas the Night Before Christmas, and this is definitely a book that should be read out loud. I'm sending this with my son to school so his teacher can read it to the class. I've told her about it, and she and the class are waiting for it! One of my favorite illustrations is where the children are hugging the happy little turkeys. (No, NOT a reality, but this is a CHILDREN'S book. We save a little reality for them later in Catcher In The Rye.) Also, I love the illustration of the children, suddenly turned all chubby, with turkey feathers sticking out from under their coats. Hmmm...

Maybe some of the naysayers of this book should stop and consider some old favorites. Snow White committed breaking and entering. Do they warn their children that they should not break into people's house and randomly clean, like Snow White? My goodness! We might have a nation of pint-sized bandits, compulsively cleaning stranger's houses...

And my eight year old son STILL does not like turkey at Thanksgiving, without reading Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving. He likes the mashed potatoes and stuffing, no matter how much I try to hide the turkey with the mashed potatoes...

Dav Pilkey is such a wonderful writer/illustrator of children's books. You should definitely check out his website, [...] Mr. Pilkey, by the way, was not vegetarian when he wrote this or trying to send any "hippie, liberal" message. He's just an adult-sized kid who writes an entertaining book.
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Format: Hardcover
I am not a vegatarian, yet I love this book. It by no means ruins the Thanksgiving tradition, it only gives a comical view as to how a turkey might feel about Thanksgiving. I teach kindergarten and my class wants me to read this story over and over!
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By A Customer on July 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is one of my favorite of all children's books. It's silly and touching, a difficult combination to achieve. The words and the pictures are perfect together. It gets people in touch with that childlike side that remembers what it's like when we first make that connection between food and a living creature.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As vegetarians of a 4 year old, we have been looking for books and videos/dvd's on thanksgiving that put' much less focus on eating turkey. We have tried to raise our child as a thoughtful vegetarian. Meaning, we realize we are still very much in the minority and most everyone he knows eats meat. I don't want to program him in such as way where he his openly criticizing people eating meat. This entertaining book also creates thoughtful discussion of why we choose not to eat meat but also realizing most others do. Parts of the book may be a bit inappropriate for younger children as there is a farmer wielding an ax. BUT overall it's a good book with great illustrations.
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Format: Hardcover
I love Dav Pilkey's 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving! I teach a Montessori public school class of first, second and third graders, and I also happen to be a vegan. I want my students to know the truth about where food comes from, and this book helps teach them that turkey dinners don't grow on trees! I love the illustrations, from the chubby teacher and her peace-sign earrings, to the Starry Night background (a good bridge for studying the work and life of Van Gogh!) It has become a Thanksgiving tradition for me.
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By A Customer on November 13, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book is great for kids to see where exactly their turkey dinner comes from! A lot of us take for granted that our food is just there - not what has to be done to get it there and this is a delightful story for young and old alike. It is truely the essence of being thankful for animals.
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By A Customer on December 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
My kids and I love this book. Written in the style of 'Twas the Night before Christmas...a group of school children are taken on a field trip. "When what with their wondering eyes should they see, but a miniature farm and eight tiny turkey."
A very sweet, non-violent story!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is not vegan propaganda. The author was not vegan or vegetarian at the time that he wrote this. He set out to write a fun, Thanksgiving-themed children's book set to the tone of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, and he accomplished that. The kids are dreaming of drumsticks during the bus ride, but save the turkeys in the end. That isn't a bad thing and I don't get the complaint that some people seem to have with that.

This is a fun book that really shows the sweetness and sensitivity of children. We have rescued chickens and while kids sometimes meet them with a little reservation at first, once they realize that the chickens are friendly, they are eager to feed and spend time with them. For a lot of kids, meeting new animals is a magical experience. A couple of days ago, a little girl was over and my daughter introduced her to our adopted potbelly pig. Her eyes lit up and she was so excited to get to feed her carrots and have her roll for belly rubs. The girl's dad thought we planned to butcher the pig and his daughter's eyes grew wide in horror and then softened when we said that Elsa is never going to be eaten. Her dad seemed disappointed that he couldn't get in on the meat. In that way, he reminded me of Farmer Mack Nugget in this book. A nice enough guy, likes kids, but has no trouble with killing an animal he knows and eating the result. Most kids aren't like that. They want to help animals and be their friends. Kids can come up with pretty hilarious ways of trying to solve such problems. That is what happens here. As soon as the kids have a chance to save the turkeys, they do! It would never work in real life, but is fun to see on paper and little kids love looking at the feathers and feet sticking out from under coats and giggling.
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