There’s Always Room for One More

S. & S./Paula Wiseman. Aug. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781665925372.
PreS-Gr 2–Casey loves the old dining table where she’s had birthdays and Saturday morning pancakes, but with Grandpa coming to live with them, her family will need a bigger one. While everyone else in Casey’s warm and loving Black family and diverse community is having fun preparing the new table for Grandpa’s arrival, Casey sits with her sad feelings about losing the old table that felt so much like home. In a poignant social-emotional learning moment, Casey’s mom says Grandpa may be missing his old home, too. As Casey empathizes with Grandpa’s situation, she realizes the new table is a place where new memories can be made, and starts by baking her and Grandpa’s favorite treat, a peach cobbler. The story ends with Grandpa and the neighbors joining Casey’s family for a meal around the new table, where there is always room for one more. Like the previous sentence, the title concept feels a little tacked on. However, the rest of McGrath’s text is clearly written and lovely to read aloud and includes such poetic phrases as “Love pours out in our favorite color” when the dog accidentally spills a can of paint. A few odd choices (nostalgia for homework help and card games as well as “pa’s bad jokes”) feel old for what otherwise appears to be a four- or five-year-old main character, but don’t detract much from the story. Lobo’s sweet stylized illustrations use a limited color palette of warm pinks and browns complemented by greens throughout, and embrace a digitally drawn look.
VERDICT A solid purchase for any picture book collection.

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