Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Around the Table That Grandad Built by Melanie Heuiser Hill, illustrated by Jaime Kim

Around the Table That Grandad Built by Melanie Heuiser Hill,
illustrated by Jaime Kim
Candlewick Press, 2019, 32 pages
I was wondering what to read to my kids to get a conversation going about Thanksgiving. And then, this lovely picture book arrived that celebrates and gives thanks for family, friendships, and the bounty we share with each other on Thanksgiving Day or any day, for that matter.

Beginning with the line "This is the table that Grandad built," a young red-headed girl narrates how the table is set with different but very meaningful items to celebrate a meal together with family and friends. Onto the lovely large table built by her grandfather are placed sunflowers picked by cousins, napkins sewn by Mom, plates, glasses that were wedding gifts, and silverware from her Dad's grandma. Then, there is a bounty of vegetables from the garden, along with toasty tamales, spicy samosas and the rice pudding that is enjoyed every year, a loaf of bread that Gran baked, butter made by the kids, Dad's special huckleberry jam, and a variety of pies for dessert. It is a glorious mix of old and new edible traditions.

And while food is an important part of any gathering, it is the people sitting around the table that really make for the best meals and memories. Around the Table That Grandad Built includes a diverse group of people sharing a meal together in complete harmony, and both text and illustrations evoke the kind of warm feelings and sense of belonging that a holiday like Thanksgiving can represent. My young readers are a diverse group, too, and when we read this book, we began to talking about the different people and foods that are part of their (and my) Thanksgiving. We made a list of the foods served in their families and, just as it is in this book, their tables offered a wide variety of dishes traditional in their families. One of the things my young readers noticed is while turkey is a part of their Thanksgiving, there is not a turkey on the table in this book. They decided, after some prompting, that this makes it a good book to talk about gratitude all year long. 

Around the Table That Grandad Built follows the same pattern of cumulative rhyme as "This is the House That Jack Built." Well, only up to a point and then the repeating last line, "Set on the table that Grandad built" is dropped. And yet, the rhythm of the poem, complete with the caesura in the middle, never falters.

We have read Around the Table That Grandad Built a number of times now, and my kids never get tired of it. This is a wonderful, heartwarming story that highlights the importance of being thankful for the people and beauty that surrounds our lives.

This book is recommended for readers age 3+
This book was gratefully received from the publisher, Candlewick Press

1 comment:

  1. I love this book, and Jama Rattigan just shared it, too, Alex. It is a marvelous one for Thanksgiving sharing. I enjoyed hearing about your sharing with students and how much they loved it! Happy Thanksgiving to you!


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