Our Table by Peter H. Reynolds. Orchard Books, 2021. 9781338572322
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Format: Uncorrected proof
Genre: Picture book
What did you like about the book? Violet has many happy memories about her family’s table, where they used to share meals, stories, laughter, and love. Lately, as her parents and brother are more often found distracted by a screen (her dad watches TV, her mom chats on her phone, and her brother plays games in his room), the table is shrinking, until one day it has completely disappeared. Violet is determined to bring the family back to the table, so she meets them at their level, watching a carpentry show with her father, asking her mom to ask for advice on social media, and getting her brother to help her design a new table. Her plan is successful, and soon they are gathered once again and everyone is glad, even the family pets.
Violet joins the ranks of Vashti, Jerome, and the many other Reynolds protagonists who are creative, strong problem solvers who just might save the world someday. Her story is simply told, just a sentence or two per page spread, but her feelings and her resolve are profound. As usual, Reynolds tells the story as much with color as with words; Violet’s happy memories are in full, vibrant, colorful detail (as is her triumphant conclusion) but her solitary moments and her efforts to reconcile are depicted in monochromatic deep purple. With its very pointed – but not overtly stated – message, Our Table is an allegory for our time, which will hit home with a lot of families and its release is very well-timed for the approaching holiday season.
Anything you did not like about the book? I wonder if younger readers will worry about where the table went…
To whom would you recommend this book? This will be huge hit with Peter Reynolds’ legion of fans, and is a much gentler way to start a conversation about device-free time than funnier books like The Couch Potato or You Missed It.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.
Date of review: October 14, 2021