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TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER: 'Thanksgiving Graces' teaches children the real meaning of why we gather for the holiday

As far back as you can remember, your parents have taught you that sharing is the right thing to do.

You've always been told to let others play nicely with your toys and look gently at your books. If you have candy, you're encouraged to give someone else a bite. You might share your day, a silly story, a snuggly blanket, a seat or a box of colors.

When you have abundance, it's always nice to share. And as you'll see in the book "Thanksgiving Graces" by Mark Kimball Moulton, illustrated by David Wenzel, when you give, you also get back.

It's Thanksgiving Day, and everyone's getting ready. The turkey smells soooo good in the oven and the whole family is helping set the table.

Grandma's making pies when there's a knock on the door. It's the neighbor, Charlie, and she asks him to stay for dinner. There's plenty of food and plenty of room at the table for him.

Charlie says he'd be glad to stay, but only if Grandma and Mom would let him pitch in and help. He rolls up his sleeves and plunges his arms into hot soapy water. Having someone to wash dishes is always a big help.

When the door opens a minute later, it's big brother Jim, home from college and he's not alone. He brought a friend, but that's OK. There's plenty to eat and lots of room for two more. Jim sneaks a taste of what's on the stove, and Mom laughs. Jim has done this before.

Then everyone hears the sound of a horn honking. Two more people arrive and Grandpa adds another table at the end. Another guest calls to see if she can bring her cousin and her mother. Every time someone asks if there's room for an extra, the answer is always "Yes! Of course!"

But as the table gets longer and the room seems smaller, one young host gets a little worried. Grandma didn't make a lot of pies. There weren't many potatoes boiling on the stove, and the turkey wasn't very big -- was it? Would there be enough food at this Thanksgiving table?

Sometimes, particularly when you're a kid, it's hard to separate the "thanks" of Thanksgiving from the legends, the parades, and the fun. But this sweetly gentle little story, told in rhyme, explains the real meaning behind why we gather.

In author Mark Kimball Moulton's holiday house, there's love, warmth, and welcome as the table slowly expands to make room for every new arrival. I loved the quiet worry in the words of Moulton's young narrator and I loved the simplicity of Moulton's story-poem, but neither would be the same without artist David Wenzel. One look at Wenzel's illustrations, and you can almost hear the laughter in this perfectly thankful book.

Two- to 8-year-olds will love "Thanksgiving Graces," but I don't think anyone of any age would mind a read-aloud this holiday. Whether yours is a feast for two or a fete for 2,000, this is a book to share.

"Thanksgiving Graces," written by Mark Kimball Moulton and illustrated by David Wenzel, copyright 2011 by Ideals Children's Books, is 26 pages and sells for $14.99.

Contact Terri Schlichenmeyer at www.bookwormsez.com.