The little-kids’ table is where the fun is. Duh! Grown-ups can keep their fancy-schmancy dishes and the icky green stuff they put on them.
At this celebration of the family meal divided into adult and kid tables, much of the charm resides in Riehle’s unselfconscious couplets—“Mom piles food high on all of our plates, / making us try the foods we know we’ll hate”—combined with the creative mischief afoot at that table. This is not a food fight à la Animal House. It’s making goofy faces out of the gross food on the plate or hanging a spoon on your nose or putting peas in your cousin’s milk—that is if there is any milk left after squirting it out your nose during a fit of laughter. Yeah, there will be some cleaning up, but not a week’s worth. A healthy measure of background business complements the main event, like when the Labradoodle makes good its entry and does what Labradoodles do best: knock stuff over. And there are what can only be called sweet touches, like Mom going cross-eyed from all the crackling energy or one twin pouring ketchup into a teacup balanced on the other twin’s nose. Uhles’ artwork doesn’t stretch much, but the color is as solid as that of old, wooden blocks. She presents a modern American extended family, with a variety of skin tones and ethnicities in evidence.
Who wouldn’t want to join this table? All you have to do is hang a spoon from your nose. (Picture book. 3-6)