Around the Table That Grandad Built
This is the table that Grandad built.
These are the sunflowers picked by my cousins,
set on the table that Grandad built.
In a unique take on the cumulative classic “This Is the House That Jack Built,” a family gathers with friends and neighbors to share a meal around a table that brims with associations: napkins sewn by Mom, glasses from Mom and Dad’s wedding, silverware gifted to Dad by his grandma long ago. Not to mention the squash from the garden, the bread baked by Gran, and the pies made by the young narrator (with a little help). Serving up a diverse array of dishes and faces, this warm and welcoming story is poised to become a savored part of Thanksgiving traditions to come.
For these hands we hold, for tasty good food, for family and friends,
for grace that is given and love that is shared, we give thanks …
Awards and Recognition
Parents’ Choice recommended title
“A warm and welcoming table.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“For those who love multicultural and multigenerational themes, Around the Table That Grandad Built is a wonderful addition to the home library. Equally important—especially in this day and age—are the opportunities the book provides to talk about essential values. Thankfulness, hard work, love, and selflessness can be discussed anytime you’re around the table. Consider sharing for Thanksgiving!” (Good Reads with Ronna)
“The finale features pies, one of which the narrator baked, and a little poem of gratitude for ‘grace that is given and love that is shared.’ The rhythmical text and bright illustrations will enhance any Thanksgiving or celebratory dinner with family and friends.” (Washington Parent)
The Story Behind This Book
The first line of Joy Harjo’s poem, “Perhaps The World Ends Here” is a line that speaks to me at a deep level.
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
It was while memorizing this beautiful poem years ago that I wrote the early drafts of Around the Table That Grandad Built. I am a believer in the power of sharing a meal, the importance of kitchen tables, and the grace of gathering generations of friends and family together with the excuse that we all need to eat. I’m with Harjo that the kitchen table is where children are educated in what it means to be human—we absolutely make women and men as we pass dishes around and butter the bread. I believe we humans need a place to sing with joy and sorrow, and to give thanks. A table is a good place to do that.
I love a well-set table. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but I like for there to be color, history, and good food placed on the table before everyone sits down. I enjoy “dressing” the table with colorful linens…arranging the dishes and silverware … placing flowers just so … lighting candles …. I enjoy quiet dinners with just one or two fellow diners, and I enjoy more eclectic and boisterous meals where people are squished together around the table and everyone brings something to share. What can I say? I come from a line of women who delight in dishes and napkins and food and gathering everyone up.
It was a joy to watch artist Jaime Kim make the words of this book come alive in the illustrations. The table she drew looks very much like our family’s kitchen table, which she had no way of knowing. She also could not have known how thrilled I’d be with the second to last spread—the table all set, seen from above, hands clasped around it, a feast ready to eat….
For these hands we hold,
for tasty good food,
for family and friends,
for grace that is given
and love that is shared,
we give thanks….
As Harjo says:
Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table,
while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.
May it be so, I say. May it be so.
Melanie Heuiser Hill
illustrated by Jaime Kim
Candlewick Press, 2019
Buy the Book
Read my Around the Table blog for stories about tables, recipes, table graces, table settings, and more!
Enjoy this interview, look-behind-the-book, photos, and recipe, all about the book, on Jama Rattigan’s blog.
Check out my recommendations for “The Best Books about Sharing Food” for the Shepherd website.