Don't Let Auntie Mabel Bless the Table

Vanessa Brantley Newton, Blue Apple (Chronicle, dist.), $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-60905-029-0
Can a book be simultaneously reverent and irreverent? Newton (Let Freedom Sing) performs that potentially dicey feat with ease in this story of a Sunday supper derailed by a prayer that won't stop. As a sizable family—diverse in age, race, and creed—gathers for dinner at Auntie Mabel's house, a bounty awaits. But the host is determined that not a single dish, attendee, or just about anything else under the sun go unthanked. "Now bless the corn and black-eyed peas,/ Virginia ham, and mac and cheese./ Bless the roast chicken—it's much too small./ I'm sure, Lord, it won't feed us all." As Auntie Mabel moves on to relatives, friends, the president, and so on, Newton wryly pictures the family's reactions, sneaking a bite, nodding off—even the priest is playing with his food. Finally, the narrator's father saves the day (as does the microwave). Readers will recognize the Auntie Mabels in their own lives, and also the broader family dynamics at work. Despite the ample fun, it's clear that with these folks, family and faith come first. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/20/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
Genre: Children's
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