The Relatives Came Book and Audiocassette Tape Set
Cynthia Rylant, Stephen Gammell
(Scholastic Book Clubs Softcover Book and Audiocassette Tape, March 15, 1993)
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.