Thankful by Elaine Vickers, illustrated by Samantha Cotterill


illustrated by Samantha Cotterill
Review copy from Simon & Schuster
Thankful follows a young girl as she begins her family's annual tradition. When the first snow falls, she writes down the things she is thankful for on strips of paper, linking them in a chain, adding to the chain as her year unfolds. Vickers's gentle texts illuminates all the things the narrator is thankful for, starting at bedtime with a home where she is safe and warm and a bedtime ritual with her parents. One gratitude flows to the next as the narrator goes through her day. On the bus to school, she is "thankful for a heart that beats," and in the classroom, in a circle of students sitting with eyes closed and legs crossed, she is thankful for, "every breath, in and out, in and out." At times, Vickers's words are lyrical, like when the narrator is thankful for "doors that lead to wonderful places," and, "snow that softens the whole world." But she keeps her story grounded in the physical world, noting the many everyday, but important, things the narrator is thankful for, things that we so easily take for granted, grouping them in new ways. The narrator is thankful for "things that are soft and fresh," (laundry, bread, moss on rocks) and things that are hard (pedals, handlebars, a smooth road for riding on). Returning to where she began, Vickers ends her story in the narrator's bedroom, a chain of gratitudes hanging around her window, framing the thing she is most thankful for - the world.

Cotterill's stunning 3D illustrations perfectly bring to life and deepen Vickers's story. To bring Thankful to life, Cotterill created sets (about 3 - 4 feet wide) building, from paper that she draws on, paints on, cuts out, and glues into everything that will go on the set, from the bookshelf, bed and desk chair in the narrator's room to the school bus, minivan and three-wheeled baby buggy. There are details galore that readers will pore over, again and again, all marvelous inspirations - along with Vickers's gratitude chain - of what we have to be thankful for.

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