RAY AND THE BEST FAMILY REUNION EVER

Mildred Pitts Walter, Author . HarperCollins $15.95 (119p) ISBN 978-0-06-623624-7

Coretta Scott King medalist Walter (Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World) turns in a flat novel about an 11-year-old boy whose extended Creole family gathers in Louisiana to celebrate the birthday of his paternal great-grandfather. Ray is especially anxious to meet his grandfather, from whom his own father has long been estranged. Much darker in complexion than his parents or his older sister, Ray is told he resembles his grandfather in more ways than one: "You know, you just like your Gran-papa Philippe. Can't depend on you to do anything. You're just like him. Even look like him," snaps Ray's father during one of his frequent tirades. The prose is awkward: Ray asks himself, "Who is this Gran-papa Philippe?… His papa seemed so angry and disappointed when he spoke of him with words filled with regret." Walter laboriously details the reunion (e.g., "Ray felt like staying in bed, but he was so hungry he knew he was going to the picnic, where there would be lots of food, a lot to drink, and music and games"). Initially meeting Philippe in secret so as to avoid his father's wrath, Ray bonds with his grandfather. The author inserts some interesting slivers of Creole history in an otherwise tedious tale, which concludes, predictably, with a reconciliation between Ray's father and grandfather. Ages 8-12. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/10/2001
Release date: 01/01/2002
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 978-0-06-199841-6
Hardcover - 128 pages - 978-0-06-623625-4
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