Reminiscent of Cynthia Rylant and Stephen Gammell’s Caldecott Honor book, The Relatives Came (1993), Crum and Catrow’s collaboration delivers a spirited, loving depiction of extended familial bonds.
Jacket art squarely identifies the child cousins, rather than aunts, uncles, grandparents or other grown-ups, as the focus of this story about a joyous family reunion, as a bevy of kids races toward the right side of the cover, inviting readers to follow. Title-page art then brings readers back in time to the car trip to the reunion, but then the copyright and dedication pages mysteriously zoom in on restful hens. The story’s beginning explains this artistic deviation as the chickens scatter with the exuberant arrival of carloads of family members and their descent on the homestead. Artistic embellishments such as this and the matter-of-fact inclusion of a multicultural cast of characters enhance the joyful text in which cousins mischievously romp through their time together under the patient and tolerant eyes of the adults who love them so. In this sense, the picture book as a whole (words and art) feels much more akin to Gammell’s humorous, energetic art in The Relatives Came than to Rylant’s nostalgic, bittersweet, moving text. The result is a seamless, though in comparison, perhaps less complex or powerful, treatment of family.
An ebullient celebration of family. (Picture book. 3-6)