By Cynthia Rylant
Illustrations by Jill Kastner
November is the month when we are most aware of our senses: the sounds of leaves crunching, the sights of animals preparing for winter, the touch of cold winds, the smells and tastes of spices and all the food of Thanksgiving. These feelings are perfectly captured in Cynthia Rylant’s In November.
The story beautifully describes the rituals that you and your reader associate with this time of year, from animals hibernating and bird going south, to families cooking together and gathering to give thanks. Jill Kastner’s oil paintings are a perfect accompaniment to the descriptive text, done in a warm autumn palette with soft edges that draw readers in to the mood and feel of November.
In this Issue
You might also enjoy these activities that can easily be adapted to In November:
Usually made to hang on a Christmas tree, these cinnamon ornaments work just as well as an autumn potpourri, filling your home with the smells we associate with this time of year. Made in the shape of leaves, pumpkins, or turkeys, these ornaments would be an excellent centerpiece or tabletop accent for your Thanksgiving dinner. Young readers would be so proud to see their contribution in such a prominent place during the gathering!
The smell of cinnamon will fill your house while making this activity and even after. If carefully packaged these ornaments can be saved and brought out year after year as a seasonal decoration that will bring back fond memories of special books and special times with your young reader.
If you think about it, the entire story of In November centers on enjoying the autumn season through each of the senses. This activity is the perfect segue to discussing the sense of smell with your reader. For a fun, quick example of how we use our sense of smell, try having your reader close his or her eyes, and smell various items from the pantry to see if they can be identified. You might get some interesting answers!
Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments
- 1- 6.5 oz jar ground cinnamon (or about 1 3/4 cups ground cinnamon)
- 1 1/2 cups applesauce
- 2 tablespoons white glue
- Preheat oven to 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups ground cinnamon (almost the whole 6.5 oz jar, but not quite), applesauce, and glue.
- Mix until well combined. If it seems on the dry side, add just a bit of applesauce. If a bit wet, add a touch of cinnamon.
- Roll out on counter to 1/4 inch thick, on a piece of waxed or parchment paper if desired, although it seemed to make it a little harder to transfer the shapes to the cookie sheet. You can roll it out thinner, but the finished product will be more delicate.
- Cut out using cookie cutters in desired shapes. If you are making these into ornaments to hang, make sure to make holes near to the top (not too close!) for the string.
- Transfer cut-out shapes to a foil-lined cookie sheet. Re-roll dough and cut out more shapes if desired.
- Bake for 30 minutes. If you are not using the oven for anything else after baking these, turn the oven off and leave the ornaments in for a few hours.
- Continue to turn the ornaments over occasionally until completely dry. It can take a few days.
Spiced Apple Cider
This mulled cider is full of autumn flavors taste buds of all ages will love. Fun to prepare and wonderfully fragrant, this is a perfect beverage to sip while enjoying story time Together. Can your young reader spot who is sipping cider in the pages of In November?
Spiced Apple Cider
Makes 3 cups
- 4 cups apple cider
- 1/2 an orange, unpeeled, and sliced about 1/2 inch thick
- 1 cinnamon stick
- pinch ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Place cider, sliced orange, cinnamon stick, and cloves in a medium saucepan.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 to 30 minutes. About 5 minutes before done simmering, add vanilla to cider.
- Strain cider through a colander to remove solids.
- Pour strained cider into mugs. If desired, add a cinnamon stick to each mug for a stirrer!
More to explore on Off the Shelf:
From the popular Bear series by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman, Bear Says Thanks is the perfect Thanksgiving installment that celebrates friendship.
In A Turkey for Thanksgiving, by Eve Bunting and Diane deGroat, Mr. and Mrs. Moose's Thanksgiving feast has surprising twist!