cover image Celebration!


Jane Resh Thomas, Raul Colon. Hyperion Books, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0189-3

In this affectionate sketch of an African American family's Fourth of July potluck picnic, the real cause for celebration is family companionship. Maggie's relations are a jovial mix: first comes Granny with her ""famous chocolate cake""; baked beans and pork chops arrive in a station wagon full of cousins; a professional couple and their son Maurice (who says he's too old for ""family stuff"") step from a silver car, bearing bottled water and raw vegetables; ""late as usual,"" the bachelor uncle with the sparklers appears as ""the bringer of fun."" Thomas's (Saying Good-bye to Grandma) text swarms with personal details: while juggling the lemonade, Maggie's father unsnags Granny's hair net from the car door; Maggie realizes that Maurice's boredom ""is his way to hide every other feeling."" The golden and mahogany tones of Colon's (Always My Dad) watercolor illustrations, layered on etched paper with color and lithograph pencils, envelop readers in the party. The broadly smiling, robust forms of family members are set against the muted forms of the yard; scratchy lines suggest a whirl of activity. Both text and artwork present the pleasantly complicated coming together of a real family, complete with quirks, strains and real joy. Ages 4-8. (June)