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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin

I don’t care what any of you say. Sweet potatoes shall never cross this Thanksgiving plate o’ mine. To celebrate the season (though we all know it’s pared down terribly this year) Kate requested a Thanksgiving picture book classic. We got some great suggestions from our readers all of which I am placing on the back burner for next year. That’s because this year, I’m doing a book circa 1971. One that I remember pulling out every year when I was a children’s librarian in NYC. In the course of things, Kate creates a shocking backstory worthy of V.C. Andrews while I deep dive into Agatha Christie territory and start speculating about how the incipient murder would take place. In other words, Thanksgiving fun for the whole family!

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, PlayerFM, or your preferred method of podcast selection.

Show Notes:

I’m … I’m so very pleased. After mentioning on the podcast that I suspected that as a child I saw a film based on Wendy and Harry Devlin’s book about a witch, I looked it up on YouTube, found it, and in the show notes it says “The life of a witch is disrupted by the arrival of a boy and his mother. The intruders’ presence makes her struggle to adjust to the modern world, and to change from bad to good witch. Based on the book “Old Black Witch” by Wende and Harry Devlin.” Apparently it was playing in elementary schools in the 70s as well as the 80s. One wonders when it was finally retired.

Aw, heck. It’s almost Thanksgiving. Here’s a little treat. The Thanksgiving Song I asked Kate to sing (and I MIGHT point out that on the spot she was able to sing this song verbatim, which is remarkable):

I wasn’t kidding about The National covering this song, by the way:

And you can see the Addams Family version of a Thanksgiving song here, which Kate alludes to.

Where is that girl’s grandmother? It is November in New England and she’s just wearing this thin thin shirt? Put on a coat, girl!

“All I’m saying is, if this was an Agatha Christie mystery, I know how this old lady would die.” As you can see, she’s hiding her highly desirable cranberry bread recipe behind a brick. That means I’ve already identified the murder weapon!

Kate’s theory that Grandma is actually Maggie’s mother is backed up, to my mind, by the fact that her face is shockingly smooth and supple. This is all a complex masquerade on Grandma’s part.

I love the Scooby-Doo-esque backgrounds going on in scenes like this.

This only comes up briefly in the course of our conversation but I just love how the artists do this shift to silhouettes. I don’t recall many older picture books going this route unless it was the whole book and not just a double page spread.

Picture books with recipes in the back are a dime a dozen today, but this was the oldest we’ve ever found on this show. Love the “Get Mother to help.” Sorry, Pops.

Here is Christine Taylor-Butler’s piece on Gender Inequity: Caldecott by the Numbers. #KidlitWomen. And a big thank you to Sarah Brannen for pointing out the disparity in the sex of the creators we feature on our podcast.

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. Kathy Smargiassi says

    One positive about this book that you didn’t mention, is that the story doesn’t drag in the racist origin myth for Thanksgiving. It’s just about gathering people together and eating. There aren’t that many Thanksgiving books like that, and these days we’re all on the lookout for such.

    • That was actually a key factor in my selecting it. It’s actually quite notable how the book avoids any mention of that myth whatsoever. I should have brought that up. Excellent point.