Story by Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by Stephen Gammell
Published by Simon & Schuster
In a rainbow-colored station wagon that smelled like a real car, the relatives came.
This book was a favorite of my 2nd graders last year. While the story itself isn't phenomenal, the pictures are. My students loved the soft, colorful illustrations; we spent a lot of time going over the detail in the drawings (which were originally done in colored pencil). The Relatives Came earned a Caldecott Honor for illustrator Stephen Gammell (who also did The Old Banjo and A Regular Rolling Noah.)
Most children love tradition and family; there's something about repetition and stability that's comforting when you're three feet shorter than the rest of the world. Naturally, nostalgic stories about family reunions (like this one) are well-received. Though they'll probably grow to hate reunions as much as their adult counterparts, it's good to share this kind of story with kids while they're still enthusiastic enough to enjoy it.
A side note: while the cover declares this book suitable for ages 4-7, the vocabulary of the text is generally too difficult for independent reading at this age level.