The Thanksgiving Dinner Platter

The Thanksgiving Dinner Platter

by Randa Handler

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It is 1941, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt has just made Thanksgiving a national holiday in the United States. Takari’s family is coming from near and far to celebrate together.

While helping her mother prepare Thanksgiving dinner, eight-year-old Takari breaks a platter that belonged to her Japanese grandmother. The platter had been an important part of her father’s family heritage, used traditionally by Takari’s grandmother to serve chestnut rice on the Japanese day of Thanksgiving.

Angry, her mother shoos her away, telling her to go visit her best friend, Little Sparrow, whose family is Native American. He is making a special cornbread just like the one served at the first Thanksgiving dinner eaten by the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians at Plymouth Plantation. In the process, Takari learns about the history of the holiday and that a similar day of gratitude, when people give thanks for their blessings, exists in many countries, including in her father’s homeland, Japan.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781497660724
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication date: 07/01/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 36
File size: 9 MB
Age Range: 6 - 8 Years

About the Author

Randa Handler is an author, international journalist, publicist, and publisher. Her interview with actor Rock Hudson (his last) was published worldwide. Her expertise in public relations made many products and personalities household names. She is the author of the Cubbie Blue and His Dog Dot series and If I Were King. Her educational series of children’s books are still being used as “lesson plans” by elementary school teachers. 

Read an Excerpt

The Thanksgiving Dinner Platter

By Randa Handler


Copyright © 2012 Randa Handler
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-6072-4


Eight-year-old Takari was excited that many of her relatives were coming for Thanksgiving dinner. It was 1941, the U.S. Congress had just approved Thanksgiving as a national holiday, and for the first time Takari's entire family would be celebrating together. "Your Aunt Millie is coming from New York and your Uncle David from Michigan! It's exciting that we'll all be together in New Jersey just like when we were kids!" exclaimed Takari's mother, beaming.

"Is Dad's family coming, too?" asked Takari.

"It's too far to come from Japan. I wish they were," replied Takari's mother, smiling.

"Me, too," said Takari, sighing.

Takari's mother had a lot to do before the guests arrived. She rushed back and forth from the dining room to the kitchen, her hands filled with plates and silverware.

"Can I help?" Takari asked.

Takari's mother frowned, but then said, "Okay. Bring the big white platter that's on the counter, but be very careful. It's Grandma Toshi's. Your dad's family brought it out every Thanksgiving.

"Did Dad celebrate Thanksgiving in Japan?" asked Takari, puzzled.

"Yes. In Japan, there is also a day of thanksgiving when people give thanks for their blessings throughout the year. It has a different name—Kinro Kansha no Hi ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])—but the meaning of the holiday is almost the same," answered Takari's mother, smiling.

Takari walked behind her mother carrying Grandma Toshi's platter, followed by her dog Ruffles. But suddenly when Takari's mother turned around, they all collided.

The platter fell and broke in half. Takari's mother's hands flew to her head, and she said, "Oh, Takari, how could you? Your dad is going to be so upset. And, I was going to serve Grandma Toshi's special Thanksgiving chestnut rice on it."

"I'm really sorry," said Takari upset that she had destroyed a family tradition. "I'll be more careful."

"No, I don't want you to help me anymore. Get out of here. And take Ruffles with you!" shouted Takari's mother.

Then noticing Takari's pained expression, Takari's mother tried to calm her anger and said, "Why don't you go play with your friend Little Sparrow while I get Thanksgiving dinner ready. Ruffles can use a walk. Honey, be a good girl and take her out."

"But I want to help you," said Takari. "like the Pilgrims and Indians helped each other on the first Thanksgiving."

"I don't have time. Go on," ordered Takari's mother.

Feeling gloomy, Takari leashed Ruffles as she watched her mother throw the jagged pieces of the china platter in the backyard trash.

Shuffling her feet in the dry red maple leaves on the sidewalk, Takari said to Ruffles angrily, "This isn't a good Thanksgiving. Why did Mom get so upset? It seems like she hates me. Accidents do happen, right? She must know I'd never break Grandma Toshi's platter on purpose."

In response, Ruffles wagged her tail and licked Takari's hand comfortingly.

When Takari arrived at Little Sparrow's house, she knocked on his door, but no one answered. So she turned, opened it, stepped inside, and called out, "Little Sparrow, where are you?"

"I'm in the kitchen," replied Little Sparrow.

Takari found Little Sparrow on the kitchen floor, with his knees gripping a short tree stump and pounding against the inner surface with a thick stick. He was covered head to toe in yellow flecks.

Giggling at this appearance, Takari asked, "What happened to you? Did you jump in a bag of powdered gold?"

Little Sparrow wiped his hand against his cheek, accidentally spreading more yellow dust across his face, then smiled and answered, "It's Thanksgiving, and I'm making cornmeal just like the Wampanoag used to do back in the time of the first Thanksgiving in 1620, when the English Pilgrims living at Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts got together with them to celebrate."

"The What-pan-old?" Takari asked, puzzled.


Excerpted from The Thanksgiving Dinner Platter by Randa Handler. Copyright © 2012 Randa Handler. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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