The Relatives Came
Rylant, C. (1993). The relatives came. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc., by arrangement with Bradbury Press.
The Relatives Came is a humorous and heartwarming story of one family coming to visit another. A large family loaded up the car and drove all the way from Virginia to visit a smaller part of the family. There were lots of hugs and tears upon arrival. As they settled in together there was lots of laughter and visiting. Accommodations had to be made at supper time and at bedtime to make room for all of the extra people. Things felt different for everyone, but not in a bad way. The relatives stayed for weeks and fixed many of the broken things around the house. Everyone bonded and were sad when it was time to say goodbye. Things felt strange again when the relatives left. They missed each other and looked forward to visiting again next summer.
Maybe it is because I have close relatives that live far away, but I found this book to be very endearing and emotional. I have already chose to read it to a class of second graders and it was very well received. The illustrations have so much going on that you should really stop and enjoy them before turning the page. I think this book makes people of all ages pause and appreciate their family.
K-Gr3 The title of Rylant’s exuberant tale is an understatement, for when “those relatives” came, they came en masse and they came for an extended stay. Their anticipation at seeing kin during their long, long drive and finally hugging them”against their wrinkled Virginia clothes” set the tone for this welcome family reunion, a visit that never wears thin. The relatives are depicted as a support system to help a fatherless family with all the things that need to be done in and around their house. In down-to-earth language that harbors strong emotion, Rylant recounts the festive celebration of the relatives’ stay-and the ensuing sadness when they depart. The relatives in question are a large rural brood, depicted in Gammell’s joyous color pencil drawings, as running the gamut from porcine to scrawny, old to young and rowdy to silent. In pictures of this group hugging, eating and sleeping, the unspoken closeness of the unnamed relatives can be felt. These softly colored pictures, which capture the spirit of the brief text, are large enough for sharing in groups-a use of this warm book that seems particularly appropriate.
Gale, D., & Jones, T. E. (1985). [Review of the book The relatives came, by Cynthia Rylant]. School Library Journal 32(2). Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/
Uses in the Library
This book would be a great centerpiece for a storytime to be done near the end of the school year. Many families travel during the summer to visit relatives. This book will remind children of how it is different when we are sharing our home with relatives, but it is still good. Cherished memories are made and close bonds with family are reinforced. For a craft project during the storytime, the children could use colored pencils and draw their own family gathering.