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Thanksgiving in the White House

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President Abraham Lincoln's youngest son, Tad, is very fond of Jack the turkey. He has tamed him and taught him tricks, and the bird follows him all around the White House yard. But Jack was meant to be the main dish of the first official Thanksgiving celebration. Tad doesn't want his pet to be eaten for dinner, not even for a day as special as Thanksgiving! Can he President Abraham Lincoln's youngest son, Tad, is very fond of Jack the turkey. He has tamed him and taught him tricks, and the bird follows him all around the White House yard. But Jack was meant to be the main dish of the first official Thanksgiving celebration. Tad doesn't want his pet to be eaten for dinner, not even for a day as special as Thanksgiving! Can he convince his father to save Jack's life?


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President Abraham Lincoln's youngest son, Tad, is very fond of Jack the turkey. He has tamed him and taught him tricks, and the bird follows him all around the White House yard. But Jack was meant to be the main dish of the first official Thanksgiving celebration. Tad doesn't want his pet to be eaten for dinner, not even for a day as special as Thanksgiving! Can he President Abraham Lincoln's youngest son, Tad, is very fond of Jack the turkey. He has tamed him and taught him tricks, and the bird follows him all around the White House yard. But Jack was meant to be the main dish of the first official Thanksgiving celebration. Tad doesn't want his pet to be eaten for dinner, not even for a day as special as Thanksgiving! Can he convince his father to save Jack's life?

30 review for Thanksgiving in the White House

  1. 5 out of 5

    Calista

    I enjoyed this fun work of historical fiction for kids. This is about Tad, the youngest son of President Lincoln and his pet turkey the white house got for Thanksgiving dinner. We see the influence Tad had on the president and the heart he helped bring into the white house. He would talk with people in line waiting for the president and help their case be heard. This is about the tradition of the Turkey White House bird being pardoned. Thanksgiving has been proclaimed a Holiday at the White House I enjoyed this fun work of historical fiction for kids. This is about Tad, the youngest son of President Lincoln and his pet turkey the white house got for Thanksgiving dinner. We see the influence Tad had on the president and the heart he helped bring into the white house. He would talk with people in line waiting for the president and help their case be heard. This is about the tradition of the Turkey White House bird being pardoned. Thanksgiving has been proclaimed a Holiday at the White House and Tad can't bear to eat his bird friend. The president does pardon the bird and they have ham for dinner. It's a cute story about a hard time in history, but it's an uplifting story and fun at the same time. I enjoy the artwork and the kids enjoyed this story too. The niece (she is a tough critic) gave this 3 stars and the nephew gave it 4 as he liked Tad. He said he would love to live in the White House and he told his dad he should be president. I told him his mom should be president and he was ok with that too.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It was so cool and original to have a Thanksgiving story in the White House, especially about Abraham Lincoln’s son Tad. Throw in a pet turkey and it was such a sweet idea. Tad grabbed on his turkey to the gardener, who didn’t care that the turkey followed Tad around or that he was a pet; he was only thinking of him in terms of dinner. It was odd how the turkey said “awaddlewaddlewaddle!” Didn’t know turkeys said waddle, and I have 8 right now! Then, all of a sudden, the gardener yells “Ouch!” It was so cool and original to have a Thanksgiving story in the White House, especially about Abraham Lincoln’s son Tad. Throw in a pet turkey and it was such a sweet idea. Tad grabbed on his turkey to the gardener, who didn’t care that the turkey followed Tad around or that he was a pet; he was only thinking of him in terms of dinner. It was odd how the turkey said “awaddlewaddlewaddle!” Didn’t know turkeys said waddle, and I have 8 right now! Then, all of a sudden, the gardener yells “Ouch!” without an explanation of why he said so. If you didn’t look at the picture you wouldn’t know what was happening. The author should have said the turkey bit him on the leg. It was such a cool world to be in, with two guards standing by the front door holding guns, and Tad went inside and the butler was getting ready for the new holiday Tad’s father declared. This is set for the day before the first Thanksgiving Day being celebrated by the whole country. It had such insight into the way of life and what being the president’s son may have been like. Tad moved through the line of visitors in the corridor. There were wounded soldiers, the unemployed, and widows who lost their husbands in the Civil War. Every day for a few hours the President would see them. I couldn’t believe when Tad went in front of a young woman and demanded 5 cents in order to pass, to go towards wounded soldiers in the Union army. I didn’t know why he would demand that of her. She told him her husband left his post to come and visit her when she was sick, but when he got back he was accused of deserting and now he’s going to be shot tomorrow. She feared she was too late to see the president because there were so many people ahead of her. Tad was sure his dad would, because he’s a good man. Right then an aide came down the stairs demanding that he go to see his father. It was clear he was going to be taken to task for that stunt. Tad asked the woman’s name which was really sweet of him, and that he placed her calling card at the very top of the pile. The appearance of Abraham Lincoln was exciting. He called his son Tadpole which was a cute nickname. Lincoln listed Tad’s shenanigans, Tad trying to sell their clothes on the White House lawn, then blasting the Cabinet Room door with his toy cannon, and lastly the toll. Lincoln thought it nice that Tad wanted to help soldiers but not charging people to see him. He recommended Tad sell fruit at a stand again. As he left his dad’s office, Elizabeth Miller, the woman with the baby, was being brought to the room and Tad smiled. Nice of him to help her out and see that she was helped first. It was cute the naiveté of a child, wishing his turkey could be there for the Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. It was so sweet when Elizabeth was coming down the stairs, said “God bless your father.” Lincoln pardoned her husband, and she blessed Tad too. He went off to the kitchen, where he overheard the cooks talking about the gobbler for dinner and telling the others that one of them would have to chop Jake’s head off. Tad gasped and he was cute hiding behind the wall with his hand to his mouth. Tad ran back upstairs, burst into his dad’s office as he’s with an advisor. He cried as he told him the turkey’s fate. It was funny how he said it would be mean and wicked, and pointed out his dad pardoned soldiers all the time, and can’t you pardon Jack? Lincoln wrote out a card saying that “By order of the President of the United States, Jack the turkey is to be spared from execution” and gave it to Tad to give to the cook. When asked by the cook what he was supposed to make for Thanksgiving, Tad replied he didn’t know, but it wouldn’t be Jack! It was hard to pick Tad out at the dinner table. He didn’t even look like himself. I wish we would have known who the other people were at the table, family or friends or other leaders or what. I liked the inclusion of Lincoln’s proclamation, the document that created the national Thanksgiving holiday. “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving.” It was funny and so fitting that Tad groaned and shifted at that announcement. It’s just like a kid to not want to sit still and listen to a speech. Jack could be seen outside through the window in front of his little hutch. Tad, his mom, and dad were all seated at dinner thankful for things, even in times of darkness and despair. And Jack was sitting in his hutch on a pile of hay, smiling, with banners and flags on top. I liked the “About the Story” page at the end with a painting of Lincoln reading with his son. It sucked to learn that not everything in this is true. I knew the conversations were made up obviously, but I liked to think I knew about the family after reading this. At least Tad’s antics reportedly did happen, like him saving Jack the turkey, and shooting the door down. It’s true that Tad did try to raise money to help wounded soldiers, which was so nice to learn, and he did persuade his dad to pardon a woman’s husband so he wasn’t shot. His antics got on the nerves of the staff, but most of them thought he had a big heart and a way with animals. That’s so cool! He sounds like a really nice kid. One time he hitched goats to a chair and ran them inside, which upset a group of ladies. It’s amusing that nothing was a surprise with Tad. I also liked the inclusion of “About the Civil War.” Such an experience for learning, not just about the beginning of the national holiday and the Lincoln family, but of soldiers and the Civil War, which Lincoln was a huge part of. This is important historical information for children. It was the bloodiest war in the United States, where brothers fought against brothers and fathers against sons. In 1861 11 Southern States left the Union and created the Confederacy. They wanted to rule themselves and keep slaves. April 12, 1861 was the beginning of the war, when Fort Sumter in South Carolina was attacked by Confederate troops. It lasted 4 years and the Union won. Over 620,000 men and boys were killed, and over 50,000 returned home as amputees. It might have been a little much to mention the bloodiness and amputations to such small children, especially after such a light Thanksgiving read, but I guess the truth is the truth and it might not be too early for them to learn. Idk. It was a really great idea to share “About Abraham Lincoln.” He was the 16th president, and was born in 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky in a log cabin. He was smart even though he didn’t go to school often. He was a postmaster and surveyor, and studied law. He was married in 1842 to Mary Todd. He later began a career in politics and was elected president in 1861. Soon after that the Civil War started. I already liked him but I liked him even more learning that he knew a divided nation couldn’t make it, and set the North to action to free slaves and unite the country. It was only one week after the war ended that John Wilkes Booth assassinated him in April 1865. It was so sad to learn he had 4 kids and only one made it to adulthood. Robert, the oldest, lived to be an adult, but Edward and William died as children, and it was the saddest to learn our main character, Tad, died at age 18 from a bad cold in 1871. A great Thanksgiving read that has so much more to offer than just Thanksgiving. I like how it tackles not the first Thanksgiving as so many books do, but the first national Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday we celebrate. I loved being in the President’s family, getting a glimpse into how life might have been for Abraham Lincoln. The only thing I would have done is make it even longer! I wanted more in the way of the holiday in the White House. He saved the turkey and a woman’s husband, but I would have liked to have the holiday be a bigger event.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Luisa Knight

    This books tells of the first officially observed Thanksgiving in the White House in 1863. I enjoyed hearing the story of the first turkey pardoning too(which is true). Ages: 4 - 8 **Like my reviews? I also have hundreds of detailed reports that I offer too. These reports give a complete break-down of everything in the book, so you'll know just how clean it is or isn't. I also have Clean Guides (downloadable PDFs) which enable you to clean up your book before reading it! Visit my website!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Casandria

    A great example of good historical fiction picture books for kids. Tad Lincoln was a boy when his father declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday. He grew very attached to Jack the Turkey and was dismayed to find out the turkey was meant for their dinner!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. My sister passed along this book to me for Thanksgiving. It was cute how he protested “No, Jack’s not food! He’s a pet, just like my goats and rabbits.” The turkey went “Awaddlewaddlewaddle!” gobbled the turkey. And then the gardener yells “Ouch!” and the picture shows him pecking the man’s leg, but it didn’t say that. Gobbling is not pecking. The turkey and the boy look cute in the little picture beside the words. He left the turkey on the white house steps looking one way, &then in the hallway My sister passed along this book to me for Thanksgiving. It was cute how he protested “No, Jack’s not food! He’s a pet, just like my goats and rabbits.” The turkey went “Awaddlewaddlewaddle!” gobbled the turkey. And then the gardener yells “Ouch!” and the picture shows him pecking the man’s leg, but it didn’t say that. Gobbling is not pecking. The turkey and the boy look cute in the little picture beside the words. He left the turkey on the white house steps looking one way, &then in the hallway with the butler he looked like a different person! He looked taller and older, not boyish at all. I thought he was one of the guards. He shouldn't be wearing the same outfit as the guards! He started out like a sweet kid. I couldn’t believe he was just pushing through the line of people, wounded soldiers, job seekers, and widows. I’m surprised that those people would come to the White House every afternoon, and Lincoln would meet with them. When he steps in front of a young woman with a baby and says “Halt!” Tad ordered in his deepest voice. “Five cents to pass. The proceeds help wounded soliders in the Union army.”’ I couldn’t believe it. that was so rude! Why would you ask for money when you’re the president’s son? & knowing they don’t have money. “I pray the president will pardon him.” “Oh, he will,” Tad said, his face brightening. “Pa’s a good man.” That was nice! It was also sweet of him to ask for her name. I was glad he was rectifying the situation. I didn’t expect them to have calling cards, so was surprised when he was able to go to the table and put her card on top. It was sweet, though. Aw, look at Abraham! It was cute how he called his son Tadpole Oh, I see, he wasn’t being rude. He was really raising money for wounded soldiers. “First you tried to sell our good clothes on the White House lawn. Then you blasted the Cabinet Room door with your toy cannon. And now this toll.” I’ve never even thought of Lincoln having kids. That makes it all the more sad when Lincoln was assassinated. It was sweet when Tad comes out of the door, and Mrs. Miller was there. I wish she had known or said something about Tad helping her. No sooner did I write that then I turned the page to see that she ran into Tad on her way out& thanked him. I’m glad the president pardoned him! It’s so cute he went running to his dad’s office, crying over the chefs killing his pet turkey. He says “It would be mean and wicked!” then says ‘"He has as much right to live as anybody. You pardon soldiers all the time, Pa. Can’t you pardon Jack?”’ “But, Tad, Jack was sent here to be eaten for our holiday dinner. I thought you knew that.” “No, Pa. I didn’t!” Tad wailed. This was cute: “Mr. Lincoln sighed, shook his head, and chuckled. He reached for a blank card and repeated aloud as he wrote, “By order of the President of the United States, Jack the turkey is to be spared from execution.” This was funny: “Then what am I to make for Thanksgiving?” asked the cook, studying the card Tad had just handed him. “I don’t know,” Tad replied happily. “But it won’t be Jack!” It was funny when Lincoln said ‘“We should take a moment to remember all those who are helping to hold this country together…including fruit-stand vendors.” Tad grinned.’ Because he did that to raise money for soldiers. Very like a kid to groan when his dad who’s the president, wants to read from his proclamation, which brought about Thanksgiving. I doubt he would be as happy to hear it as the other guests! I wonder if his words are from the real proclamation. “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving.” This was a good line: “Even in times of darkness and despair,” he said, “there are still many things for which to give thanks.” Jack the turkey looks so cute in his little house! It ended sort of abruptly. It was cute how Lincoln said “Looks like we’ll have a fine Thanksgiving, doesn’t it, Tadpole?” and he says “And Jack will, too!” but I was surprised to turn the page and find that was the last page! The ‘About’ sections at the end canceled out how cute and funny the story was. It ended on a sad note. I instantly kind of deflated when I read “Not all the details in this story are true” because I thought it was so cute. ‘Most of the things Tad Lincoln did in this story reportedly happened, including saving Jack the turkey and bombarding the Cabinet Room door with his toy cannon. Tad really was determined to raise money to help wounded soldiers and did persuade his father to pardon a woman’s husband so he wouldn’t be shot. Although Tad’s antics often annoyed his father’s staff, most agreed he had a big heart and a special way with animals. Once he even hitched goats to a chair and ran them through the White House, upsetting a gathering of dignified ladies. Nothing was too surprising when it came to Tad.’ I was so happy to hear that those things mentioned in the story were reportedly true! He sounds like a funny, rambunctious kid! I loved that he really did wanna help wounded soldiers, and helped a woman’s husband from execution, as well as save a turkey! I also loved that he had a big heart, and a special way with animals. It would have been funny if the goat/chair incident had been in here, too! I stopped and really looked at the photo, and noticed it was real! Is that really him and Tad!? The Civil War sounds dismal. I didn’t know ‘Brother fought against brother, father against son.’ It ended 4 years later, after 620,000 men and boys were killed, with more than 50,000 coming home as amputees. Lincoln was the 16th president of the US. Born in Kentucky in 1809. He was smart, even though he rarely went to school. I was surprised to learn that. He worked as a postmaster, surveyor, and started studying law. Married Mary Todd in 1842, and got into politics. Not long after that he became president in 1861, when the Civil War started. What a bad time to be president! He believed that a divided nation wouldn’t make it, so he got the North into action, freed slaves, and reunified the country. It’s terrible that just one week after the war ended, in 1865, he was killed in the theater. I was shocked to hear that only one of his children, the oldest named Robert, lived to adulthood. Edward and William died in childhood, and Tad, the youngest, was eighteen when he caught a really bad cold, maybe pneumonia, and died in 1871. All of that is why the book ended on a sad note. Of course, fiction is usually better than real life. I’m glad my sister passed this along, because it was a cute, funny, relatable, and feel-good story. I would have wanted to help the woman’s husband, and I would have wanted to save the turkey too! It also has some historical facts for children to learn at the end. Entertaining and informational.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie Burns

    The story is based on some facts, though the story is fiction. It shows a brief glimpse of life in the White House when the first Thanksgiving is declared a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln. The story is told through the eyes of Tad, Lincoln's youngest son. He was known for creating mischief. In this story, he charges people tolls to talk to his father, interferes with those attempting to meet with his father, and intervening in the Thanksgiving feast. His antics are shown to come from a The story is based on some facts, though the story is fiction. It shows a brief glimpse of life in the White House when the first Thanksgiving is declared a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln. The story is told through the eyes of Tad, Lincoln's youngest son. He was known for creating mischief. In this story, he charges people tolls to talk to his father, interferes with those attempting to meet with his father, and intervening in the Thanksgiving feast. His antics are shown to come from a caring place, not one of meanness or pranks. The author's notes at the back of the story explain which events truly happened. The notes also provide information on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. The book looks a little dated, it was published in 2003, but still entertaining. I think children will like the human element of the story and will find it entertaining to see what the President's son did.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    This book would be a great story to share on or around Thanksgiving. It does say that not all of it is completely true but most of it is. It would be a great story to share to show how Thanksgiving came about.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kaye

    Some adventures of Tad Lincoln before the first National Day of Thanksgiving in 1863. Kids enjoyed learning that Tad was able to get a Presidential pardon for his Turkey Jack. Also some civil war references. Good historical fiction for 3rd- 5th graders.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Simmons

    I really liked this book! I thought it was really cute! I also liked that some of what was written in this book was true! It has good morals for everyone to hear.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lee Huntington

    Funny and engaging!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    fun story about the first official national day of thanksgiving, and how President Lincoln's son saves a turkey from execution.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    A fun historical-fiction book centering on Abraham Lincoln's son, Tad, and the celebration of the first official Thanksgiving holiday.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nicol

    This was a sweet book which told some of the things that Tad Lincoln did and how his tender heart brought joy to the White House during an extremely challenging time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tracie

    President Abraham Lincoln's son convinces his father to pardon the turkey slated to be eaten at Thanksgiving dinner. Inspired by true events.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emily S.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

  18. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  19. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  23. 4 out of 5

    Denita

  24. 4 out of 5

    Leny Helena

  25. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

  26. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nadia

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  30. 4 out of 5

    Liz

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