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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is an annual favorite in many families. While the story promotes friendship, generosity, and gratitude, there are some comic pratfalls (watch out for that football, Charlie Brown!). And some characters (especially Lucy) use the words "stupid" and "blockhead," which could be problematic for parents of younger kids who like to mimic everything they hear. On DVD, the more well-known classic is usually paired with The Mayflower Voyagers, a 1988 Peanuts special that offers a more-or-less factual account of the Mayflower voyage. It doesn't sugarcoat the death and sickness that many of the Pilgrims faced; also, Pilgrims are shown with muskets, and Native Americans are shown with spears.
What's the story?
In A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING, the popular animated special created by Charles M. Schultz, Charlie Brown (voiced by Todd Barbee) finds himself hosting a Thanksgiving meal for his friends. At first, the characters are ambivalent and somewhat negative about the holiday. But thanks to some philosophical words from Linus (Stephen Shea) and Marcie, the Peanuts gang comes to realize the true meaning of the holiday. Also included is The Mayflower Voyagers, which follows the Pilgrims -- including Charlie Brown and friends -- as they journey to the New World in 1620.
Is it any good?
Nobody does holidays quite like the Peanuts gang, and this special is no exception. Stumped over what to serve his friends for Thanksgiving dinner, Charlie Brown whips up a few tried-and-true recipes, including buttered toast, popcorn, and pretzel sticks. In a fun kitchen scene, Snoopy "conducts" the food preparation to Vince Guaraldi's "Linus and Lucy," probably the most well-known and well-loved Peanuts tune. Snoopy steals the show again when he and Woodstock set the Thanksgiving table and later when they don Pilgrim-style costumes.
Released in 1988, The Mayflower Voyagers (the second feature on the DVD) strays somewhat from the simplicity that made its predecessors so endearing, but it's still educational. The animated special follows the Pilgrims -- including Charlie Brown and friends -- as they journey to the New World in 1620. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving does a good job of depicting the perilous Mayflower voyage, as well as the challenges of settling in a new land.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the real meaning of Thanksgiving, how it's not only about turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. How did the Peanuts gang learn that lesson in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving? What will you be thankful for this Thanksgiving?
What did you learn about the Mayflower voyage that you didn't know before? How could you learn more?
How does Charlie Brown show the true spirit of Thanksgiving to his friends, even though he doesn't know how to cook turkey or much of anything else?
- In theaters: November 20, 1973
- On DVD or streaming: September 12, 2000
- Cast: Jimmy Ahrens, Stephen Shea, Todd Barbee
- Directors: Bill Melendez, Phil Roman
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Brothers and sisters, Cats, dogs, and mice, Friendship, History, Holidays, Misfits and underdogs, Music and sing-along
- Character strengths: Gratitude
- Run time: 25 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- MPAA explanation: Not Rated
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