h1 November 25th, 2021 by jules

“I am thankful for all those things: love and dreams, night and morning.
For a moon and a sun that always come back.
For stars and candles to make my wishes on.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


There’s no doubt that this is a time of year — now until year’s end — when people talk a lot about gratitude. No matter how you celebrate the holidays (or if you even don’t), it’s undeniable the lasting effects of pausing to take stock of what you’re thankful for. (Neuroscientists have even shown that it rewires our brains in postive ways.) Elaine Vickers’s Thankful (Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster, September 2021), illustrated by Samatha Cotterill, tells the story of one child’s meditations on gratitude.

As you can see in the book’s opening spread, pictured below, the child narrates the tale. “Every year when the first snow falls, we make thankful chains to last through December.” The “we” here is the family. The rest of the book shows the child engaged in daily activities at both home and school, and it’s notable that the child is grateful not for only the obvious things (family, “a home where I am safe and warm,” etc.). One can also be thankful for the things that bring comfort in fearful moments (a new puppy when feeling anxious about going to school); elements of nature (“snow that softens the whole world” and “moss on rocks”); things that are “hard, like pedals and handlebars”; things that bring a sense of safety (“stop signs and seat belts”); and things that “get fixed” (“scraped knees”). The “I am thankful for COLOR” pages consist of a full-bleed spread depicting multi-colored hot air balloons on a splendid autumn day.

Cotterill’s medium here, as noted on the copyright page, is photographed hand-built, three-dimensional sets. The result is illustrations (possessing intriguing textures, particularly those hot air balloons, which you’ll want to reach out and touch) that seem to lift from the pages. Cotterill’s spreads are carefully balanced, expertly composed. It’s a visually appealing tale, whose text would serve as an excellent writing prompt in classrooms or libraries.

Here are somes spread. Enjoy!


“Every year when the first snow falls, we make thankful chains to last us
through December. It is hard to think of all the things to be thankful for in a whole year,
so I start right in my own room.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“I am thankful for a home where I am safe and warm. Thankful for parents who read me stories and brush my hair gently, gently.
Who whisper the same poem every night when they tuck me in. …”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)



Two images above: Click either one to see spread in its entirety



Two images above: Click either one to see spread in its entirety


“I am thankful for a friend who waits for me at recess
and a teacher who knows when I am trying my best.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


* * * * * * *

THANKFUL. Text © 2021 by Elaine Vickers. Illustrations © 2021 by Samantha Cotterill and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York.

One comment to “Thankful

  1. That’s just gorgeous – I love the cut-out style! And the words are lovely as well.

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact Thanks.