Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell.
Clarion, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1993.
Board book, 28 pages.
Follow one family from store to sitting down at the table as they prepare for dinner and count to ten – twice!
This book mesmerizes my toddler who will sit and flip through the pages over and over again. Our most recent pre-reader loves that she can participate by counting the numbers, and it’s been helping her recognize number words too.
I love a lot of things about Feast for 10. First I just have to mention the large family. At one time, books about only children were unusual, but now the reverse is true – most books only include one, two, or maybe three children in the family. For those with larger families, it can be difficult to find appropriate representation.
The family in Feast for 10 includes parents, a toddler, two girls and two boys. The final spread includes an older man and woman who could be grandparents, and a man who could be another relative or a visiting friend. It’s so nice to see a larger, close-knit family represented.
So many aspects of this remind me of our family. The baby falling asleep on the car ride home from the store, everybody has to bring a few groceries in, the older kids helping with dinner while the little ones watch, the boy licking his lips as he delivers delicious food to the table.
Cathryn Falwell does a good job with the text. The rhyme/counting scheme is 1 store, 2/3 pie/fry, 4 more; 5/6 beans/greens, 7 jar, 8/9 tomatoes/potatoes, 10 car; 1 store, 2/3 look/cook, 4 more; 5/6 cans/pans, 7 peel, 8/9 down/around, and 10 meal! It’s subtle enough to make for a smooth read-aloud, but varied enough that it doesn’t feel forced into that format.
The artwork is layered cut paper. This style was much more popular in the 1990s and is less common now that digital art has taken off. The patience and attention to detail needed for this to be successful has always impressed me – I don’t mind cutting things out, but freehanding artwork like this is far beyond my interests.
One of the details I always look for in artwork is variation of skin color. Black people have a wide variety of appearances based on biology, culture, and personal choices, but white artwork too often tints everyone the same shade. This book is a bit different because the characters are a family, so some similarity is reasonable; there were enough subtle distinctions to satisfy me.
Overall, this was a good addition to our board book shelf. I appreciated the counting and rhyming skills and seeing a larger family of color. This is apparently part of a series, but it isn’t clear whether other books in the series are also published as board books. While it’s not specific to Thanksgiving, this certainly would be a useful addition to a class shelf on the holiday. Recommended.