Ruby’s Reunion Day Dinner has been in our library’s new book section for the past few months, but I only recently got around to reviewing it. While it’s definitely a summertime story, the theme of family reuniting over a large meal also fits with American Thanksgiving right around the corner. Ruby is excited to celebrate a family reunion but is told again and again – and again and again – that she’s too young to help with the preparations. Luckily Ruby doesn’t give up and discovers her own special talent to share at her family dinner. This tale of determination, persistence, and intergenerational family love makes Ruby’s Reunion Day Dinner a definite treat.
I want to take a moment to just appreciate the liveliness of Jestenia Southerland’s artwork. The characters are wonderfully warm and alive, showcasing a wide variety of skin tones, body sizes, and hair styles. The technique of laying color against color without the use of strong borders between shapes lends to a soft, almost dreamlike quality. And yet each illustration is also grounded in reality, showcasing a Black family celebrating a heritage of soul food and passing it down to the next generation. Ruby’s world is nurturing and inviting; every page is like opening a present.
After being told ‘no, you’re too little’ so many times by all her relatives, Ruby is determined to make her own contribution to the potluck. She enlists help from an older relative to cut the lemons (it’s never too early to teach kitchen safety to kids!) and shares a delicious lemonade with her family. I love how Ruby finds her own way to participate in this family tradition. And I love that her contribution is immediately accepted by her family!
I definitely recommend Ruby’s Reunion Day Dinner for your family or class library. You can pick up a copy from Bookshop, IndieBound, Amazon, or your local library through WorldCat.