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More About This Book

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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 Coln'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)
Children's Literature - Karen Saxe
The extended family gathers for a picnic on the Fourth of July. Cousins, grandparents, and neighbors get involved with the jump ropes, squirt guns, fireworks, and food. Nothing truly exciting or even out of the ordinary happens, but the author's point could well be to relate the story of a happy, normal, family enjoying themselves together in modern America.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4The Fourth of July holiday is secondary to what this book truly celebrates: family, in all its glory. Readers can't help but catch the infectious joy and excitement as 22 siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc., arrive at Maggie's house for a picnic. There is food galore, a new pool to play in, and sparklers. Everyone is named, everyone plays a role, even Shadow the dog who wants to climb in Granny's lap. Details bring the African-American family to life; the adults include lawyers, a nurse, and a teacher, and the kids range from taciturn 13-year-old Maurice, on a "short leash" for having been caught stealing candy, to little Willie, with his diapers down around his knees. Nothing extraordinary takes place, but with each fresh arrival it becomes clear that nothing momentous needs to happen because the whole book is about an event in itself. The soft-edged, mixed-media illustrations help draw readers into the energy of this family's interactions. Gleaming faces glow against a richly hued, textured background. The unmistakable pride and pleasure of this all-American family shines bright.Martha Topol, Traverse Area District Library, Traverse City, MI
Kirkus Reviews
One African-American family's Fourth of July picnic takes a food-laden, loving approach that feels more manufactured than genuine.

Maggie heralds the arrival of her relatives, all bearing food and games for the celebration. The book is dominated by descriptions of the dazzling array of foods, imposing an adult's-eye view on the gathering; adults sitting around and kids splashing in the pool are the extent of story. The characterizations are limited: One aunt, in her nurse's uniform and followed by her six children, is a "broody old hen"; a couple (who have both finished law school) are defined by their insistence on bottled water, while their moody son is on a "short leash" for pilfering "some candy at the drugstore"—the only character with definition, albeit a caricatured one. Colón's cross-hatchings create a pleasing portrait of a middle-class family's backyard party, but he neglects children's fondness for details that match the text: Granny drives her car, but gets out on the passenger side; a "bowl" of raw vegetables appears as a pot with a lid; a "bachelor brother" arrives with sparklers, but is shown holding VHS tapes; Pop is seen cooking hot dogs six pages before Mom says, "Let's put the hot dogs on the fire and give [her brother] some food before he drinks any beer." Lacking the humorous tumult of Cynthia Rylant and Stephen Gammell's The Relatives Came (1985), the effect is fairly wholesome, but without benefit of strong emotion or a storyteller's voice, there are no fireworks.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786821600
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 6/28/1997
  • Series: Maggie Stories Series
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 8.75 (w) x 11.25 (h) x 0.37 (d)

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