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America's REAL First Thanksgiving: St. Augustine, Florida, September 8, 1565 Review by Kelly Miller

Robin Gioia
Pineapple Press, Incorporated
PO Box 3889
Sarasota, Florida 34230
ISBN: 978-1-56164-389-9

Here in the United States, when we think about the first Thanksgiving, we envision the Pilgrims and Indians of Plymouth, Massachusetts, merrily feasting on foods like turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn, homemade rolls, pumpkin pie, and an assortment of vegetables from their bountiful harvest. However, we hear the real truth about the origins of this blessed holiday through Robin Gioia's new book, aptly titled America's REAL First Thanksgiving.

In this stunningly illustrated, 48-page hardcover book, Ms. Gioia reveals to us--from her historical research--that the real first thanksgiving was held in St. Augustine, Florida, on September 8, 1565, when the Timucua Indians celebrated the arrival of Spanish explorer Admiral Pedro Menendez. Together they feasted on foods such as cocido; a blend of pork, garbanzo beans and onions. They also may have had venison, alligator, tortoise, and a variety of vegetables, including squash and maize (corn).

The book begins with beautiful maps of the world in 1565 and then gracefully takes us into the history of Spain's exploration of the New World. Then Ms. Gioia presents a narrative history of Florida, and the Timucua Native American tribe. From there we head into the real first day of Thanksgiving, in St. Augustine, Florida, and learn about this city's rich history up to the modern day. At the end of the book, there is a special cocido recipe for you and your family to enjoy, along with a descriptive timeline of events beginning in 1492 and ending in 1621.

I can't speak highly enough about the beautiful illustrations in this book. My 11-year-old daughter was mesmerized by the pages and fascinated by the content. We felt as if we were right there celebrating with the Timucua on that first Thanksgiving Day. The publisher suggests that this book is for ages 9 to 14 (reading level grades 4-8); however, I think this literary find would be great for all ages due to the vibrant illustrations. If we are going to teach our children, let's start by teaching them the truth about the real first Thanksgiving--and give them a healthy dose of the great history of Spain while we are at it. Add this to the list of books you must read with your family!

Product review by Kelly Miller, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2007