In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Relatives Came!

Dear Annie,

It seems appropriate to get back into blogging gear with a look at time just past:

The Relatives Came
, by the multi-talented Cynthia Rylant (previously mentioned here and here): Eleanor and I read it together several times.  It's a rollicking, over-stuffed version of our family visit here in Maine.  In the book, the relatives in Virginia pack up their "old station wagon that smelled like a real car," and drive all day, until they arrive in dramatic fashion:
Then it was hugging time.  Talk about hugging!  Those relatives just passed us all around their car, pulling us against their wrinkled Virginia clothes, crying sometimes.  They hugged us for hours.
Stephen Gammell's illustrations capture the rumpled chaos and the warmth of two families greeting:
Hours expand to weeks, children get used to "all that new breathing in the house" at night, families eat, do chores, play music, take pictures and hug...

This lovely picture book ends up on several schools' summer reading lists, so I'm always thinking about it this time of year.  But somehow, this year, after your visit, it seems so perfect.  All visits must end, of course, as yours did two days ago.  The relatives pack up the station wagon, strapping too many suitcases to the roof, and leave before dawn.
And the relatives drove on, all day long and into the night, and while they traveled along they looked at the strange houses and different mountains and they thought about their dark purple grapes waiting at home in Virginia.
But they thought about us, too.  Missing them.  And they missed us.
And when they were finally home in Virginia, they crawled into their silent, soft beds and dreamed about the next summer.



1 comment:

  1. It's amazing how a simple little picture book can bring back poignant memories from 50 years past. Thank you.