The Trouble With Turkeys

by On November 18, 2013 in Childrens Books, Holidays, Reading, Recipes

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It’s turkey time!

I love Thanksgiving, but I’ve always had my issues with turkeys.

As a kid, I would watch my mom prep the turkey. When she reached into that cavity and pulled out the bag of turkey guts, I’d run from the room, horrified. (Classic kid’s disconnect: I ate the turkey later with no qualms.)

When I was old enough to start hosting Thanksgiving, I had different troubles with turkeys. How do I safely thaw a 20-pound birdsicle? What in the heck is trussing? What’s the perfect roasting time to avoid a poisonous undercooked bird and an overdone dry one?

Now as a parent, my turkey troubles have changed again. It isn’t about handling turkey guts (as a mom; I’ve seen worse). It isn’t about turkey preparation, either. I’ve proudly mastered the fresh, brined, perfectly roasted bird (thanks Alton Brown of Good Eats!)

No, my issue now is with all the anthropomorphic turkeys populating children’s Thanksgiving books ?– the ones who cleverly live to tell the tale.

I’m trying to cook a Thanksgiving bird, people! These stories have my kid eyeballing me with suspicion and demanding answers about my holiday menu.

I didn’t realize there are so many “let’s save that adorable turkey” books, either. There’s Lorna Balian’s?Sometimes its Turkey, Sometimes its Feathers?(Star Bright Books) with the old woman who raises the bird, plumps him up for Thanksgiving, but then saves him because its more fun to share the holiday with the turkey than to eat him! Aw!

In children's Thanksgiving stories, turkeys often become pals. Credit:, vintage boy and turkey.

In children’s Thanksgiving stories, turkeys often become pals.
Credit:, vintage boy and turkey.

There’s also Eve Bunting’s A Turkey for Thanksgiving?(HMH Books)?where we watch a turkey quaking in fear the whole book, thinking the other animals are hunting him for Thanksgiving supper. Turns out, he’s actually on the guest list! ?How sweet, right?

In Wendy Silvano’s Turkey Trouble and Turkey Claus?books (Two Lions), we’ve got more turkeys using clever subterfuge to win a chair at the holiday table — with pizza for all!

Recently I pulled our holiday books out of storage and was reminded that we own Dav Pilkey’s Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving?(Scholastic Books).??Yup. Adorable kids bonding with adorable feathered friends, staging a Great Turkey Rescue. In the end, all the kids and their “pet” turkeys dined on Thanksgiving veggies and toast.

Cute books all, but for those of us with a bird in the brine bucket, these books are tricky. Yesterday, my kid glared at me in the market as I checked out bins of turkeys, dramatically threatening to never eat turkey sandwiches in her lunch again! Egads. That would leave me with just PBJs for Miss Picky.

So now, Plan B. I’ll create a diversion with other fall-themed books?and a?kid’s holiday craft project or two. Maybe then she won’t notice me in the kitchen, refusing to make tofurkey.


Diana is a sociologist, freelance writer and mom, though rarely in that order. Her writing spans topics from parenting joys and challenges to prevention education. She writes a monthly parenting blog for Yahoo and has published feature articles on adoption, family rituals and the childcare industry for parenting publications. Diana earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. These days find her hanging with her husband and book-loving six year old in the San Francisco Bay Area, while happily blogging and serving as a reading advocate for Bookboard.

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