21 July 2009
We've just had an extended family visit, which has put me in mind of this jaunty and joyful collaboration between Cynthia Rylant and Stephen Gammell. Combining oft-repeated text, numerous references to food, and energetic colored pencil illustrations, The Relatives Came perfectly expresses the loving claustrophobia of a family visit, and then the bittersweet stillness when they are gone. The cover sets the tone, with a multicolored, jam-packed vehicle literally bouncing off the road with the eagerness of its occupants to reach their destination. The ensuing hugging and merriment makes for a cheery reading experience. The book, published in 1985 won a well-deserved Caldecott Honor Award. And although it chronicles a summer visit, I often use it for Thanksgiving storytimes, because of its loving, family-oriented theme. A winner at any time of the year.