cover image Family Dinner

Family Dinner

Jane Cutler, Philip Caswell. Farrar Straus Giroux, $14 (117pp) ISBN 978-0-374-32267-0

Rachel's family never sits down to eat dinner together, so when Great-Uncle Benson comes for an extended visit he asks, ``How can you have a family without family dinner?'' and launches a culinary crusade to start such gatherings. Rachel is enthralled with Benson and joins his cause. Cutler intersperses a sequence of unrelated episodes--involving Rachel's friendship with a neighbor boy, her problems on the soccer field, the death of her pet hamster--with the tale of the campaign. Although these incidents are moderately diverting, Cutler has not woven them together into a unified whole; loose ends make this a choppy, unsatisfying novel. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 8-up. (Jan.)