Around the Table That Grandad Built

Publisher: Candlewick Press Author: Melanie Heuiser HillIllustrator: Jaime Kim


Around the Table That Grandad Built might sound familiar. It’s reminiscent of the nursery rhyme known as The House That Jack Built, which is described in the 1844 collection, The Nursery Rhymes of England, as “an accumulative story.”

In that children’s poem, the first line is:

This is the house that Jack built.

Then: This is the malt

That lay in the house that Jack built.

Next: This is the rat

That ate the malt

That lay in the house that Jack built.

It goes on to include a dog, a cat, a maiden and a priest, covering 11 verses.

Around the Table That Grandad Built is described in the book jacket as a “cumulative picture book” and similarly builds into a story of a family gathering around meal with a diverse group of people and food. A stack of toasty tamales, rice pudding, squash “that took over our garden,” Gran’s warm bread, Dad’s huckleberry jam and pies are mentioned — all on the table that grandad built. The group gives thanks. There isn’t an obvious turkey, it’s not Thanksgiving Dinner per se, although one plate appears to be what looks like a pork chop or chicken leg. The carrots are much easier to spot.

Melanie Heuiser Hill’s kind and mouth-watering words paired with Jaime Kim’s sweet and cheerful drawings make for a children’s book that checks all the right boxes for today – vegetarian food, diverse faces, grateful characters.

Ann Oldenburg ©2019 Parents’ Choice

Ann Oldenburg, lecturer and interim director of the journalism program at Georgetown University, writes about television, food, workplace issues and other pop culture topics. A University of Florida Gator with a degree in journalism, she began her career at The Washington Post and spent more than two decades with USA TODAY. She and her husband have three sons and live in McLean, Virginia.

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