#444 – Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving by Katherine Paterson & Pamela Dalton

giving thanksGiving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving

by Katherine Paterson

Pamela Dalton, illustrator

Handprint Books

Inside Jacket:  Newbery Medal winner Katherine Paterson’s meditations on what it means to be truly grateful—a celebration of joy at once exuberant and introspective—and cut-paper artist Pamela Dalton’s meticulous and exquisite cut-paper illustrations are paired with a collection of more than fifty graces, poems, and praise songs harvested from a wide range of cultures, religions, and voices. The unique collaboration between these two extraordinary artists, which first took root in Brother Sun, Sister Moon, flowers again in this stunningly beautiful reflection on the most remarkable of human emotions:  gratitude.

Opening: Hanging on the wall of my small study is a beautiful piece of calligraphy. In the center is one word, Joy, and on either side is a passage from the Book of Isaiah:

          You shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace:

          The mountains and the hills will break forth in singing

          And the trees of the field shall clap their hands.


About the Book:  Ms. Paterson begins the book by telling us why she is thankful every day. She is thankful for her home and having food to eat. She is thankful for the joy she has experienced and the sorrows that helped her grow. She is even thankful for her “crazy dog.” Oh, and Ms. Paterson is thankful for the rest of her family. Her first mediation ends with a prayer from seventeenth-century poet George Herbert,

          “Thou that hast given so much to me, give one

          thing more—a grateful heart.”

Giving Thanks is divided into four sections: Gather Around the Table, A Celebration of Life, The Spirit Within, and Circle of Community. Inside each section are enough words of thanks that everyone should be able to find at least a half-dozen to reflect upon, to adopt as their own, and to say at Thanksgiving and every other day of the year. Here is a short list of contributions:

Gaelic Blessings            The Bible

Inuit Songs                    Native Americans

Helen Keller                  Chinese Proverbs

e. e. cummings             Ralph Waldo Emerson


What I Thought: Giving Thanks is a book of thanks as expressed in prayers, poems, and the words of people wiser than I. Giving Thanks is a beautiful book from cover to cover. The illustrations have a look of lace, though not one strip of lace was used. The cut-paper technique was popular in the nineteenth-century. The artist folds the paper and freehand cuts ending with a symmetrical design. Other techniques include tracing on a pattern and cutting around it.

Ms. Dalton gave her cut-paper designs an antique look using coffee as the dye. She then ironed the piece, and on some, used watercolor to bring out depth and illuminate characters. The cover shouts out, “something special” is on every page, and it is right, there are cut-paper designs to astound you and text to enlighten you.

With Thanksgiving just a couple of weeks away, Giving Thanks is the book to help you through that day and every day that follows this holiday season. This time of year is one of joy, happiness, family, and friends. Tables are often overflowing with the abundance of those people present and finding things to be thankful for will be extremely easy. It is easy to feel thankful, but not as easy to express your thankfulness. What does one say? Thank you. Thanks.


Every year at Thanksgiving dinner, we would go around the table and everyone was put on the spot and told to say what, that year, we are thankful for. Giving Thanks would make this ritual much more meaningful to everyone, not just the person speaking, if we each chose a passage from the book that expressed how we felt. Mine might be:

“Do all the good you can

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.”

–John Wesley

Those six lines are exactly what, for me, social work entails. Even retired it is difficult not to function with this at my core. I was surprised to find a poem that fit me as well as Mr. Wesley’s poem. If asked today what I am thankful for, I would like to remember the above. I am thankful to have worked with the kids I worked with and helped. Giving Thanks made me realize there was a way to express my thankfulness other than stumbling over words that do not come out of my mouth correctly. Grandma is off to the side saying, “Huh, what did she say? Sounded like a cat whining.”


from countryliving.com

Giving Thanks is a beautiful book for the holidays. It will look gorgeous sitting out, waiting for friends and family to open it up. Giving Thanks will undoubtedly start many conversations about thankfulness and then segue into memories once forgotten. A book like Giving Thanks is a catalyst for growth and a beautiful addition to any holiday décor.


Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving

by Katherine Paterson    website    bio for kids

Pamela Dalton, illustrator    website    twitter    linkedin      pinterest

Handprint Books     website

Released October 15, 2013

ISBN:  978-1-4521-1339-5

56 pages

Age 5 and up


© 2013 by Handprint Books, used with permission

Original text copyright © 2013 by Minna Murra, Inc.

Meditations copyright © 2013 by Katherine Paterson

Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Pamela Dalton


Handprint Books is an imprint of Chronicle Books



giving thanks disl


17 thoughts on “#444 – Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving by Katherine Paterson & Pamela Dalton

  1. Pingback: Erik’s Thanksgiving Picks! | This Kid Reviews Books

  2. What a lovely review for a beautiful book! I try to be grateful for everything in my life. It’s so important to give thanks and learn to appreciate. How’s your new Mac treating you? Are you appreciating it?


    • Thanks, but it was the book that made me do it. 🙂 I am grateful I could finally afford a Mac. But then . . .

      Nearly every program I use or tool that I had would have to go through changes I was not smart enough to know how to make, nor patient enough to wade through the Internet trying to find the how-tos. My patience gave up and I traded for a PC and banked the substantial difference. Now I am going in circles with Microsoft trying to get the Mac Office turned into a PC Office.

      I did appreciate the Mac. I loved how it worked, and how easy it was, how light it was, how long the battery lasted, . . . darn, now I am having more regrets. I am kinda sorry I didn’t take the time to figure all that stuff out. Now I have a windows 8 that is driving me crazy. I want my windows 7 back. One of these days, when I don’t have so much to do on the computer, I’ll learn what I need to do and get the Mac Air again. ‘Course, by that time there won’t be any programing difference between a Mac and a PC. Why isn’t a Mac a PC? A PC doesn’t have to be a Mac, but isn’t a Mac still a PC? 😦


      • Oh no! Sorry to hear of your trials and tribulations! You’ve given me another idea for Picture Book Idea Month, though. Thanks!


  3. Sue, as soon as I saw the cover, content and authoer of the book in this post, I had a feeling I’d really like it 🙂 I do!!!

    Katherine Paterson is a wonderful writer, which should give this special book a lot of attention. It looks absolutely beautiful, and what I really love is that it doesn’t shy away from faith or God.

    Honestly, I am grateful every day for what I am blessed with, and every time I’m brought down, I turn to those things to help keep things in perspective. As difficult as life can be, there are ALways many things we should be thankful for, surely. To me, this would also make a beautiful host gift when visiting someone for Thanksgiving, or really any day. It should be a coffee table book year round 😀 Thanks for making us aware of this beauty!


    • A host gift is a wonderful idea, especially at Thanksgiving. Genius idea. 🙂
      To be grateful everyday, when computers crash around us and Best Buy is a pain to deal with at times, being grateful can be a difficult thing to feel. I do what you do, I remember all the wonderful things I have been given and the people in my lie and forget about the problems for a while. Being grateful also makes it easier to deal with problems.

      In the book there are quotes from the Bible, the Islamic faith, Jewish, Native Indians, the Inuit, and many famous writers and other people. So there are a lot of religions represented in Giving Thanks. And the illustrations are so amazing. I cannot image cutting all those shapes out of the paper, some of which are so fragile. Break one and you start over. Ms. Dalton has a video explaining how she makes these illustrations (from another book), and she goes through several blades per page. The patience it must take to make those cutouts must be tremendous.


      • Oooo, I’m glad you mentioned her video. I’d love to see it, though the tediousness may actually make me anxious! lol It’s been MANY a year I’ve wanted to take a lot of time on one piece of artwork. What she does requires a lot of patience, a steady hand and a VERY sharp X-acto knife 😉 And it DOES get difficult on bad days (occasionally even grateful thoughts don’t help), but without living gratefully, I can’t imagine getting through life 🙂


  4. “Thou that hast given so much to me, give one

    thing more—a grateful heart.” ~ I should repeat this to myself every morning. It is too easy (for me) to dwell on the negative things around me when I should be remembering and giving thanks for all that I have. Thank you Ms. Paterson for writing such a wonderful book and to you Sue for reviewing it and bringing it to the forefront of peoples attention.

    Paul R. Hewlett


    • Paul you give me too much credit. Usually the publisher has sent the book. Only on occasion do I pester them for a particular book. Ms. Paterson has put together a rich collection of these grace poems, thoughts, prayers. It is an amazing book and perfect for this time of year. 🙂


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