Now, on to the book.....
Here is "an outstanding work that presents a fairly 'heavy' topic so that youngsters can understand it...." this is a portion of a comment by Paul Galanti, a Vietnam POW, on the book jacket and I thought it was a great description. Now I'll tell you a little more about it in my own (less eloquent) words. Remember I teach kindergarten and try to keep it simple. :)
This book is about the "white table" tradition. Now, I am an all American gal and I had no idea what this tradition is all about. Am I the only one? Did all of you know about it? Did I fall asleep in history that day? I learned from this book that it started after the Vietnam War to honor the POWs and MIAs. I love that there are books like this to remind us of traditions and to tell the stories that we may not have heard.
The story is a mom telling her girls about the reason they are setting a little white table. Her Uncle John is coming over for dinner on Veteran's Day and she learns that he was a POW in Vietnam. Mom explains throughout the book what the white tablecloth, lemon slice, salt, black napkin, white candle, empty glass, red rose and empty chair mean. Katie's heart swells with pride for her uncle. She and her sisters decide to make a gift to put on the table to honor veteran's but she can't decide what to make. As the book concludes she finally figures it out what she will make. I think you will really like her gift.
I love the illustrations and they make the story come alive. There is a mixture of present day and images from Vietnam with the lyrics of "My County, 'Tis of Thee" sprinkled on the pages. Mike Benny is the illustrator, and this is his first children's book. He did a great job and I hope to see more from him.
After reading this book, I feel like I learned a lot (again) and my heart is full of pride for all of our soldiers and the sacrifices they make or are willing to make. I want to grab my little housekeeping table in my class and set it up. I think this would be a concrete way for children to begin to grasp Veteran's Day and the visual reminder would be fantastic set up in the class for a few days. I bet it is something they would remember and talk about for a long time!