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by Trish Cooke & illustrated by Paul Howard

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-7636-1851-9
Publisher: Candlewick

Happiness and comfort overflow in this cozy tale of domestic bliss. An African-American boy, Jay Jay, narrates the weekly event in which “uncles and aunties, cousins and friends” all gather at Grannie’s house for Sunday dinner. Jay Jay’s mother drops him off on her way to pick up his father, so he and Grannie, whose face is as soft and warm as a down comforter, wait for the other guests. Cooke (The Grandad Tree, 2000, etc.) portrays Jay Jay’s anticipation in true child form as he repeatedly asks if dinner’s ready yet and watches restlessly out the window. The focus on Jay Jay and Grannie in the beginning might lead the reader to expect more of a story about their relationship rather than a celebration of ritual and family, but a celebration it is. Cars full of relatives finally pull up and out tumble tired, but cheerful parents and excited kids. Howard’s (One Bright Penny, p. 1395, etc.) inviting illustrations capture the complex expressions and postures of the adults and the children’s giddy and gleeful faces. The rhyming dinner menu, which Jay Jay recites, is astounding. “There were buttery peas, chicken and yams, macaroni and cheese, potatoes and ham. Biscuits, gravy, collard greens, pasta salad, rice and red beans! There was apple pie and vanilla ice cream, fresh peach cobbler covered in steam, raspberry sauce, coffee and tea—plenty, plenty for everybody!” Though a February release, the content invokes the holiday season and voices the importance of family without forcing it down anyone’s throat. Nothing else could fit after that meal anyway. (Picture book. 3-6)