Wednesday, November 11, 2009

America's White Table by Margot Theis Raven - Book Review and Giveaway


"Then in the salt on the little white table... I traced in the grains of their families' tears what each man and woman who serves America is to me, a ... Hero." - America's White Table by Margot Theis Raven, illustrated by Mike Benny

Staff Sgt. Amy Krueger, a Wisconsin soldier, had an American flag tattooed to her back with the following words, "All gave some. Some gave all. Sacrifice." She was one of 13 people killed in the shooting at Fort Hood last week. Veterans Day is a day to honor all those servicemen and women who give so much in order to protect our freedom. They indeed sacrifice much and deserve our deepest appreciation and respect.

America's White Table is a powerful and moving picture book to share with children and help them understand the sacrifice involved in serving our nation. The book introduces a military tradition of setting a white table [also called POW/MIA Missing Man Table or remembrance table] as a way to remember and symbolize service members, especially those held captive or missing in action. Author Margot Theis Raven describes this touching and poignant ceremony by telling a story from the viewpoint of a little girl named Katie. While Katie helps set a little white table on Veterans Day, her mother explains the importance and meaning behind the tradition and also tells them about their Uncle John's act of heroism as a POW in Vietnam. In the end, Katie, in her own special way, pays tribute to and honors her uncle and all those soldiers who have sacrificed so much for her freedom.
"We use a small table, girls," she explained first, "to show one soldier's lonely battle against many. We cover it with a white cloth to honor a soldier's pure heart when he answers his country's call to duty.

We place a lemon slice and grains of salt on a plate to show a captive soldier's bitter fate and the tears of families waiting for loved ones to return," she continued.

We push an empty chair to the table for the missing soldiers who are not here..."

According to the author's note in the back of the book, the tradition of setting a white table originated during the time of the Vietnam War by a group of airman called the Red River Valley Pilots Association. The symbols on the table may vary depending on the ceremony.

Benny's softly hued illustrations convey the variety emotions brought on by this solemn tribute. The words of "My County 'Tis of Thee" grace the background of the pages, bringing even more meaning to the text. The story and images brought tears to my eyes, and my family will certainly make reading this story an annual tradition. America's White Table is perfect to share at home, especially during Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Many schools have also used Raven's book in their Veteran's Day commemorations, with students setting their own white tables. The story could also be incorporated in teacher's lesson plans and used to supplement units about the Vietnam War and prisoners of war.

America's White Table by Margot Theis Raven, illustrated by Mike Benny. Sleeping Bear Press (April 2005); 32 pages; ISBN 9781585362165
Book Source: Review copy provided for free by publisher (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)


Watch this wonderful SchoolTube video from French Town Elementary School about setting a white table on Veterans Day:



Win your own copy! Sleeping Bear Press/Gale Cengage Learning has kindly offered to give away (3) copies of America's White Table to Brimful Curiosities readers.

To enter, leave a comment relevant to this post.
• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US and Canada
• Contest ends on Monday, November 23rd, 2009 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random
Four ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 5 - leave a separate comment for each entry):
1st extra entry: Tell me about a memory related to a veteran or Veterans Day.
2nd extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader
3rd extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
4th extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.

59 comments:

Sue said...

Jimmy Carter. Probably not the answer you were expecting first. :)
Thanks for sharing.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

ossmcalc said...

I live in a city next to a very large artillery and missile base and teach at the high school that is the feeder school for the base. Simple ceremonies like this help during the difficult times of war and being apart from the families. It is important that we never forget the sacrifices that the men and women of the military make for us on a daily basis, as well as their families.

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

ossmcalc said...

On Veterans Day four years ago, there was a ceremony at our high school where I teach that really hit home with me. We all gathered in the middle of the football practice field. The ROTC formed an honor guard into the stands. Members of the faculty and staff who had served in the armed forces were asked to be seated in the stands. Then the students who had already committed to service were asked to be seated. Then those of us who had a family member who was deployed were asked to be seated. Then those who had a family member serving stateside or was a Veteran were asked to be seated. At the end, there were so very few people left in the middle of the field. It was amazing to me how much service in the military affected all of our lives.

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

ossmcalc said...

I follow you and subscribe by email and Google Reader.

thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

ossmcalc said...

I follow you on Twitter and tweeted about this giveaway http://twitter.com/ossmcalc/status/5628892136

Thank you,

Christine
womackcm@sbcglobal.net

rubynreba said...

What a neat book this is! I had never heard of this. I would love to have this since my husband served in Viet Nam. This would be great for our grandkids.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

I remember a program at our local school where a POW of the Korean War spoke.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

cindiizzy said...

This is an awesome book. I would love to read it!


mercsmercado at yahoo dot com

cindiizzy said...

I tweeted this giveaway at http://twitter.com/cindi1969/status/5637248106


mercsmercado at yahoo dot com

cindiizzy said...

I blogged this giveaway at
http://themercadonews.blogspot.com/2009/11/veterans-day-book-for-children.html


mercsmercado at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a wonderful book, and I'd love to read it.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I remember my dad showing me the purple heart medal he was given in the army in WWII. I have always been so proud of my dad.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Serendipity is Sweet said...

Sounds like a wonderful book to share with children. I had not heard of this ceremony before. Thanks for sharing. Great review!

melissa b rich at gmail dot com

ChristiS said...

What a wonderful story to share with children! There isn't much 'out there' at their level to explain Veteran's Day, or at least there isn't that I've found. This is fantastic! Thank you for sharing!

Wanda said...

Please enter my name in your draw. Thanks.
wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)cominae

Wanda said...

I am a follower of your blog. I also subscribe via Google Reader.
wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

Kristie said...

I had never heard about this before-it would be great to have the book to teach the kids! :-)

khmorgan_00 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Staci said...

This sounds like such a powerful book. There are so many topics that are tough to cover with kids, but it always seems like if I have a book with me to start the conversation, we can talk about anything. I'd love to share this one with my son.
mommastaci33(at)yahoo(dot)com

Staci said...

I remember when I was little helping to raise the POW/MIA flag at my cousin's house. Their dad was a vet and knew many people who were MIA. It was always tough to hear him talk about the war.
mommastaci33(at)yahoo(dot)com

Katy said...

I had never heard of the White Table tradition until this year. Learn something new everyday, right?

My grandfather was a veteran of WWII, and I cherish the homework assignment I had in high school that required me to interview him about his experiences at war. I am so glad I have that record of his war service now that he is gone.

Katy said...

I'm also following you on twitter and just retweeted the giveaway @afewmorepages

Karen_thrifty said...

I come from generations of veterans so this would be a welcome addition to our book collection.

knowhimwell at hotmail dot com

Karen_thrifty said...

Most of my veteran memories come from my maternal grandpa. We lived in the same town so I got to spend a lot of time with him. He told lots of war stories when I was a kid. Now that he's gone, I find myself remembering some of his stories and asking my aunts and uncles about others. I don't want to forget.

Probably the story that sticks in my mind most is his story about Tootsie Rolls. When he was in the war, someone said over the radio that they needed more Tootsie Rolls. It was code for ammunition, or something like that. Tootsie Rolls were dropped from the sky. My grandpa says that the Tootsie Rolls kept them alive because they had nothing to eat. It was so cold and they could put the candy under their underarms to thaw them. I can't imagine living in those kind of conditions. By the way, you can google info about the Tootsie Rolls and the war. I found it online once.

JK said...

I'd love to have this book to teach my girls more about the military and those who serve us. Hopefully they can learn to value and appreciate all those who serve.
jaimiemildred at gmail dot com

JK said...

My little brother is currently serving over in Afghanistan. It has really helped me learn to appreciate more what soldiers go through and the great service they give us. I've been able to feel the fear, and pain, and pride and joy that comes with service. I am so grateful to all who serve and especially proud to be a sister to one of our nation's heros.
jaimiemildred at gmail dot com

Terra H. said...

This inspiring and educational book would be great for my children to read. Thanks.
partymix25(at)hotmail(dot)com

clariline 98 at yahoo dot com said...

This book would be a great addition to our school, we have so many military families there.
Clariline98 at yahoo dot com

Winning Readings said...

I never knew about this tradition - this looks like a lovely book for the holiday.

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Winning Readings said...

I was naturalized as an American when I was 20, so I don't remember much about Veterans' Day as a kid. But we had lots of fun watching the local parade this last one!

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Winning Readings said...

And we posted about this at Winning Readings: http://winningreadings.blogspot.com/2009/11/americas-white-table_19.html

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Megan said...

I'd love to win this to share with my daughter. Her grandfather was in the Korean war, and even though he died before she was born, I'd like her to recognize the honor that goes along with being a veteran.

mearley@twinlakes.k12.in.us

Megan said...

Every year the school where I teach does a veteran's day program and ends it with the playing of Taps. There's something about that song that gets me every time!

mearley@twinlakes.k12.in.us

Jake Lsewhere said...

Looks like a good book, please enter me into this drawing.

Thanks for hosting this giveaway.
jake.lsewhere[at]gmail.com

Jake Lsewhere said...

I'm a follower via Friend Connect.

Thanks for hosting this giveaway.
jake.lsewhere[at]gmail.com

Jake Lsewhere said...

I've also blogged about this giveaway here.

Thanks,
jake.lsewhere[at]gmail.com

Joannof10 said...

Veteran's Day has been important to us every since we were little. I remember reciting some of "In Flander's Field" when I was in school.

Joannof10 said...

This book looks lovely and it will fit nicely into our homeschool curriculum

shopannies said...

this book sounds as if it could teach many lessons to not only children but adults as well
shopannies@yahoo.com

shopannies said...

I lived in a small town where the veterans were top of the line they were all respected and a local grocery store held a star and a picture of the men in the area who had served
shopannies@Yahoo.com

shopannies said...

following on twitter and tweeted http://twitter.com/shopannies/status/5976756969

shopannies@yahoo.com

Bingo said...

I think this looks like a wonderful book...thanks for the chance

kdhaney AT gmail dot com

Bingo said...

Veteran's Day memory for me has to be when I was teaching and a friend from the Vietnam war came to speak to my middle schoolers who were clueless about all these vets had been thro and how they were received when they came home!

kdhaney AT gmail dot com

Deb K said...

I have many family members that are Veterans and also a few that are serving in the war now..I would love to win this book to share with my grandchildren!

Thanks for the chance to win!

deb55106{at}gmail{dot}com