Dozens of Cousins

Overview

“We are wild and fierce. We do not wait for invitations.” It’s time for the annual family reunion, and the dozens of cousins are running wild like beasties. Like hungry ogres! They hug fluttering aunts and soft-spoken elders, play in the creek, shimmy up trees, take “double-dog dares,” and devour “the sweet juiciness of the world” along with hot dogs and watermelon. Hilarious side stories unfold in Catrow’s fantastically colorful, chaotic spreads that gambol and splash with comical caricatures of grinning kinfolk large and small. A lively, ...
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Overview

“We are wild and fierce. We do not wait for invitations.” It’s time for the annual family reunion, and the dozens of cousins are running wild like beasties. Like hungry ogres! They hug fluttering aunts and soft-spoken elders, play in the creek, shimmy up trees, take “double-dog dares,” and devour “the sweet juiciness of the world” along with hot dogs and watermelon. Hilarious side stories unfold in Catrow’s fantastically colorful, chaotic spreads that gambol and splash with comical caricatures of grinning kinfolk large and small. A lively, lyrical celebration of the sweet, sweet abandon of running amok among those who love you best.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An annual family reunion brings together a passel of carefree cousins in this joyful pairing of Crum’s (Mine!) comically heroic verse with Catrow’s (Have Fun, Molly Lou Mellon) equally rollicking pictures. Crum writes in first-person plural, praising the children’s muddy, eager romping with language that wouldn’t be out of place describing a Viking celebration after a successful season of marauding. “Oh, we are rowdy ogres,” she writes. “We roar! We growl!/ We parade out back doors and leap over steps,/ rushing down to the secret grottoes of the creek.” Catrow revels in the swampy setting, as wide-eyed, gap-toothed, rubber-limbed kids bound through the reeds and muck, even persuading their grandparents to cool their toes in the green water (“We put our beastie arms around their squishy middles and squeeeeeze”). Crum goes far beyond a simple appreciation of picnic fare to celebrate life itself: “We pile our plates high—a beastie feast—/ pack tight together, and fidget,/ longing to plunge our sharp teeth/ into the sweet juiciness of the world.” A triumphant ode to family in all of its messy, quirky glory. Ages 4–8. (July)
From the Publisher

"A spirited, loving depiction of extended familial bonds."
Kirkus

"An annual family reunion brings together a passel of carefree cousins in this joyful pairing of Crum's (Mine!) comically heroic verse with Catrow's (Have Fun, Molly Lou Mellon) equally rollicking pictures. . . . A triumphant ode to family in all of its messy, quirky glory."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Author and illustrator together have captured the manic energy of cousins unleashed."
School Library Journal

"It's an exuberant and comfortable time with family, and many kids will relate. A spirited real-aloud for summertime fun."
Booklist

Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Anyone with a large family will relate to this wild family reunion with a crowd of young cousins, a.k.a. "beasties" or "ogres," running wild in a rural setting. Barely supervised by bottom-heavy and doting grandparents, aunts, and uncles, the children run barefoot and uncontrolled through fields and ponds, disturbing local wildlife and crusty neighbors with their shenanigans. No sooner do they apologize for their behavior then they are off on another wild adventure, clearly doted on by the adults in the family. This is a multi-ethnic family (although most of the adults tend to the comically obese), and the children are always squint-eyed with laughter. Sisters and brothers care for each other ("When big brothers wrestle us down and drag us to the pump to wash for dinner, we eat them up"), and age seems to be no barrier to playing together. Every illustration by David Cathrow jumps and leaps with unbound energy. Perhaps this is a memory piece, because the grand, wooden house with wrap around porch and turret rooms exists only in an idealized country world. There is no stillness in this book as children spring, run, swim, and seemingly fly until the very end when the cousins literally collapse with exhaustion, sleeping where they fall. While hunting fireflies, the children turn phosphorescent green and float around the page with their prey. There are echoes of Sendak in the book's poetry. However, there is not an island of monsters, but an unruly group of relatives who gather "with beastie paws we tackle our uncles who tickles us and say, "Good golly." There is so much to see and find in this book, both with the rowdy rhymes and the exuberant drawings, that sharing is the natural outcome of reading it. A delight for summer story time. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3—An unnamed child tells of the glorious day with "beastie" cousins at a family reunion, "running with hearts hungry for hugs and tummies hungry for treats." Politeness is thrown to the wind as the cousins make themselves at home, bursting through doors and leaping into the creek, playing wild games, and annoying older siblings. They spit watermelon seeds and grab at fireflies, until they finally sleep wherever they happen to fall in the relative-packed house. Crum's text is energetically lyrical: "We are drummers of song and magicians of laughter./Our hair, spiked with mud,/proclaims us astounding." Catrow's warts-and-all illustration style is especially fitting here; those squint-eyed mugs are just right on cousins shaking their fannies and throwing underwear out of the windows with wild abandon. Author and illustrator together have captured the manic energy of cousins unleashed.—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD
Kirkus Reviews
Reminiscent of Cynthia Rylant and Stephen Gammell's Caldecott Honor book, The Relatives Came (1993), Crum and Catrow's collaboration delivers a spirited, loving depiction of extended familial bonds. Jacket art squarely identifies the child cousins, rather than aunts, uncles, grandparents or other grown-ups, as the focus of this story about a joyous family reunion, as a bevy of kids races toward the right side of the cover, inviting readers to follow. Title-page art then brings readers back in time to the car trip to the reunion, but then the copyright and dedication pages mysteriously zoom in on restful hens. The story's beginning explains this artistic deviation as the chickens scatter with the exuberant arrival of carloads of family members and their descent on the homestead. Artistic embellishments such as this and the matter-of-fact inclusion of a multicultural cast of characters enhance the joyful text in which cousins mischievously romp through their time together under the patient and tolerant eyes of the adults who love them so. In this sense, the picture book as a whole (words and art) feels much more akin to Gammell's humorous, energetic art in The Relatives Came than to Rylant's nostalgic, bittersweet, moving text. The result is a seamless, though in comparison, perhaps less complex or powerful, treatment of family. An ebullient celebration of family. (Picture book. 3-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618158744
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 7/2/2013
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 530,701
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Shutta Crum, formerly a librarian, is still an author and storyteller. She was born in Paintsville, Kentucky, and now lives with her husband in Michigan. Her website is www.shutta.com.


.David Catrow is an editorial cartoonist and the illustrator of more than 70 books for children, including two that were named New York Times Best Books of the Year. He lives in Ohio with his wife and their three dogs. His website is www.catrow.com.

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