The Spaniel Family’s Thanksgiving
By Sharon Ellsberry
Illustrated by Amy Fox
You may have noticed that I love children’s books. With no young kids or grandkids to read to in recent years, I’d forgotten how much I loved them, until I started meeting some authors who write children’s books. One of those authors is Sharon Ellsberry who writes the Spaniel Family series.
The series started with The Spaniel Family Goes to the State Fair, and this latest is the fourth book that features Spaniels named Maggie, Joe, and Daisy. Maggie, a Springer Spaniel, is the oldest of the trio and takes her role very seriously, trying to keep the others out of trouble. Joe loves to sing, and each book includes an original song. Daisy is Joe’s sister and perhaps the instigator of all the trouble, er, adventures the dogs encounter.
In this latest book, Maggie, Joe, and Daisy invite a variety of animal friends to help them celebrate the season and find reasons to be thankful. One of the subtle messages in this book is inclusiveness. The animals that come to share the meal include a cat, a bird, rabbits, a skunk, and an iguana, all creatures who normally feed on each other. Instead, they sit at a table and eat the food that the dogs have gathered from the pet store and the farmer’s market and the park, where they got nuts and tree bark.
Ellsberry has created each of her stories around what she calls a “Character Development Value,” and The Spaniel Family’s Thanksgiving highlights the fact that “every day is a thankful day when you can share a meal.”
Parents can use those values to start a conversation with their child about the message that each book puts forth, or the story can just be read for the fun of finding out what the Spaniel Family is up to. Ellsberry knows dog behavior and captures that so well in her prose.
I love the primitive style of the illustrations that are done with pastels. They seem to invite a child, or an adult, to grab a crayon and draw their own version of Maggie, Joe, or Daisy.
Sharon is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Christian Small Publishers Association, and participates in several writers critique groups. Her Pen Pal book was honored at the North Texas Book Festival, in the spring of 2008 as a finalist for the Children’s Book Award. In 2010, her Dog House Mystery book was suggested for the master reading list for the Texas Bluebonnet Award. Her State Fair book is now in its third printing. She enjoys presenting her books with her creative storytelling and skits. Sharon has done numerous programs for schools, libraries, bookstores, and organizations and has entertained thousands of children in her travels.
For more about the series and the author and illustrator visit the website for the spaniels.
FTC Disclaimer: Unlike Todd Ruthorford who is paid thousands of dollars for doing reviews. I get paid nothing. Well, okay. I get the book. But that’s all. Although, after reading the article in the New York Times about Ruthorford and his business, I may quit writing reviews for nothing and start a whole new business. But wait. I could never do that. I still have a scrap of professional integrity left that won’t allow me to review a book unless I have read it, liked it, and find it worthy of my promoting it.