Friday, November 17, 2017

PPBF: Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade

Here's today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade, a historical fiction picture book
Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade
A Thanksgiving Story
Tales of Young Americans series

Written Trinka Hakes Noble
Illustrated by David C. Gardner

Sleeping Bear Press, 2017
Ages 6-9, 32 pp, 800L

Historical, Poverty, Holiday

All the tenement children on New York's Lower East Side couldn't wait for the Ragamuffin Parade o Thanksgiving morning. But no one was more excited than a young girl named Loretta Stanowski, whom everyone called Rettie.

The story focuses on one little girl who depends on the Ragamuffin Parade and the penny scramble to put food on the table for her poor family. Rettie has always been too young to participate in the penny scramble, but she is determined to elbow her way to her share of coins this year in order to help her struggling family. Rettie shows she is a hard worker and persevering through the many chores she undertakes while her mother is sick. The spread of influenza threatens to cancel the parade, which further complicates Rettie's plans. Back matter includes information on President Wilson, World War I, influenza, the origins of the Macy''s Thanksgiving parade, and the penny scramble.

What I Love:
The rich text and engaging illustrations make this book a must for homes and classrooms. The author includes sensory images to put readers in the middle of the action. She skillfully combines historical facts into the fictionalized story in order to ratchet the tension and increase the stakes. The art beautifully compliments the words not only through exquisite detail, but with animated character poses and expressions. A personal note and informative backmatter completes the picture.

I was surprised at the high word count, but drawn in by the rich storytelling. I love the way the text explains the details without bogging down. For example, the main character plans to collect change at the penny scramble, which might seem trivial to modern children. So the author includes a trip to the market where readers learn the cost of produce at that time. Rettie cannot afford to spend a few extra cents on an apple, reinforcing the value of money and increasing the family's plight in the eyes of the reader.

Take kids to the market like the mom on An Everyday Story
to teach them the value of money.

1. Sleeping Bear Press has designated a dozen worthwhile picture books in to the Tales of Young Americans series.
I've reviewed Lily's Victory Garden
Diane Tulloch has reviewed The Tsunami Quilt
My friend Doris illustrated Black-Eyed Susan

2. You'll find amazing photos from the early Ragamuffin Parades on Gothamist and at the NY Public Library site. Learn more on Hey Ridge.

3. Witness a modern penny scramble if you're in the neighborhood of Yorkshire or at the Florence County Fair, for example or host your own.

4. In the author notes, you'll see President Woodrow Wilson's role in the celebration of Thanksgiving. Learn more about America in the first decades of the 20th century from the Woodrow Wilson House. Read past president's proclamations for giving thanks on What So Proudly We Hailed or on the American Presidency Project.

5. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Susanna
Reviewed by Penny

Also reviewed by Susanna
Reviewed by Jarm

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Julie

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for Friday, November 17, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.


  1. Oh, I a so happy to see a new Thanksgiving book out, and by Sleeping Bear Press. I did not know about this story. I am always happy to see high word counts in recent picture books!

  2. I have never heard of the penny scramble - but love the image. So much better than throwing candy.


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