What a Family!

Rachel Isadora, Author, Rachel Isadora, Illustrator Putnam Publishing Group $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-24254-0
In Isadora's (Ben's Trumpet) quirky cumulative portrait of an extended family, she does not delve into the usual family relationships or history, but instead spotlights a sampling of inherited physical characteristics. She first introduces Ollie, the shortest student in his kindergarten class; Ollie's grandfather's brother was also the shortest in his kindergarten class. On the following pages, readers also learn that Ollie's hair sticks straight up just like his brother Angelo's hair: ""Ollie and Angelo look like their first cousin once removed Roger, who has large ears that he can wiggle just like his granddaughter Sidney and his uncle Melvin."" The author randomly wends her way through the family, picking out relatives who share eye and hair color, dimples, freckles, comparable toe lengths and a need for eyeglasses. Some passages seem entirely superfluous (""Stevie, Kathy, Sara and Dave's second cousin Daisy takes off her glasses when she sings and holds a note longer than anyone""). More entertaining than the narrative, Isadora's cheerful art presents close-up images of some appealing, cherubic youngsters, whose identities are all labeled alongside their images (even when it is clear from the text who is who). Kids curious about the various branches of this clan can refer to the family tree diagramed on the book's endpapers. Ages 5-up.
Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
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