Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Relatives Came

Rylant, Cynthia (Author)
Gammell, Stephen (Illustrator)
Simon & Schuster 1993. 32 pages
First published: 1985
ISBN: 9780689717383 (paperback)
9780689845086 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Award

Caldecott Honor Book – 1986

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

A family in an old rainbow-coloured station wagon that smells “like a real car” is en route from Virginia to their relatives’ place far away. Once they arrive, it is “hugging time,” which goes on “for hours,” followed by a big celebratory supper, and then weeks and weeks of exuberant summer closeness.

This slice of life narrative is enhanced by poetic writing and vivid sensory details that draw readers in and keep them interested. The narrator notes how different it feels “going to sleep with all that new breathing in the house.” Coming full circle, their beds, when everyone has left, feel “too big and too quiet.” Rylant deftly contrasts the festive feeling of the family reunion with the eventual sadness when it is over.

Lively pictures in coloured pencil evoke the joy and bustling excitement of a houseful of relatives, old and young, fat and thin, during an extended family reunion. On every page there are myriad details for readers to discover and talk about.

This poignant celebration of family emphasizes the important idea that a good support system, whether relatives or friends, will always be there for you.

  •  

    Examine the illustration on the dedication page. Describe the luggage and speculate about the owners and contents. Make story predictions based on this and the cover illustrations.

  •  

    Make a mindmap about car trips. Use a map to locate places you have visited or would like to visit. Locate and label Virginia.

  •  

    Why is the location of the story never specified? Do you prefer using your imagination to enhance a story or would you rather be given the details?

  •  

    The characters are only referred to as “the relatives.” Draw a labeled portrait or family tree for the charactersHow is it similar to or different from your family?

  •  

    Imagine you are one of the characters. Write a letter to one of your relatives once they have returned to Virginia.

  •  

    Before reading, discuss times when visitors stay at your home. Who comes? What activities do you do?

  •  

    From the illustrations on the dedication page, determine what this luggage might typically be used for. From this page and the cover page, deduce what the story will be about.

  •  

    The relatives are not named in this story. Create a class anchor chart of possible family relatives (aunt, nephew, great-grandfather, etc.).

  •  

    After reading, sort out the relatives’ activities. Note whether they are written in the text or drawn in the illustrations.

  •  

    Relate a visit from your relatives through four or five illustrations and texts, using the story as a model.

  • To communicate appropriately
  • To construct his/her identity
  • Citizenship and Community Life