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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Thanksgiving: The Ernestine Mystery

wilbur-ugly-turkeyHappy Thanksgiving!

While you are either anticipating your upcoming feast, devouring it as you read this (which is kind of strange), or regretting the sheer amounts of food currently making their way through your digestive tract, I have a mystery for you.  In my family it is traditional to accompany Thanksgiving with a mystery.

That is a lie.  But it is an interesting lie so it stays.

What isn’t a lie is the fact that I’ve a mystery for you.  I will set the stage:

The year is 1987-88.  I’m in my fourth grade class taught by Mrs. . .  oh, let’s say FizzWuzz (the actual teacher’s name lost to time, which is a little scary, but true).  FizzWuzz reads us many books in a given year and they tend to be memorable.  There’s the story about the girl who breaks into a home and upsets the creepy ghost ladies living there (Wicked Pigeon Ladies in the Garden by Mary Chase).  There’s the one about the boy and his annoying little turtle eating brother (Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume).  And then, there is Ernestine.

Far and away, the Ernestine book is the most popular in my class.  Stories are told about a girl and her kooky family members, and one of the stories involves a turkey for Thanksgiving.  Here’s what I can recall:

1.  The book is written in what I believe is the first person, told by Ernestine.
2.  Her dad is a big do-it-yourself kind of guy.  Like the dad in Calvin & Hobbes.  He’s the kind of guy who thinks it would be great to chop down your own Christmas tree.  Or, in this particular case, kill your own Thanksgiving turkey.
3.  Hilarity ensues.

For years I have been systematically tracking down the books I read and enjoyed as a kid.  I have almost a perfect set of titles.  There are only two major gaps and one of them involves Ernestine.  For the life of me, I cannot figure out what this book was.  No searches tend to yield it.

So, my sweet reading public.  Think back in time.  If you can solve the mystery of this stumper of a book, I will be forever in your debt. 

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Did you try the “book stumper” records at Loganberry Books?

    I’d paste the address if I could, but you can find it by googling Loganberry and stump.

  2. It’s my last resort. Figured I’d try everything else I could first.

  3. Your book isn’t “Cheaper by the Dozen” is it? It sounds kind of like the general description but I don’t have a copy to make sure the turkey story is in it.

  4. I love a good stumper and thought I would give this one a try. The only thing I came up with that remotely seemed to match what you are looking for is a series by Sandra Belton called Ernestine & Amanda. It looked like they might have a later publishing date than what you are looking for but thought it was worth a try!

  5. They’re not the picture books about Ernest and Celestine by Gabrielle Vincent by any chance are they?

  6. Alas, no. Ernestine and Amanda are a touch too recent and Ernest and Celestine, while adorable, aren’t quite right either. Thanks for guessing, though!

  7. I think we are looking for the same book. I remember an incident involving a skirt that was over-starched by the dad. I now have an 8 year old daughter and I’d really like to find those books too. It was my fourth grade teacher that read it to my class as well, around the same time. I am contemplating sending a letter to an address from dexonline. But if you track it down, please post the answer to the mystery.

  8. You bet I will. I’ll post it next Thanksgiving. Seems apt.