Each November 11, our country acknowledges the sacrifices made by and honor given to our military personnel on Veteran’s Day. For many families, military service is a fact of life for their children, and for others, it’s an abstract concept that might be difficult for young children to comprehend. Margot Theis Raven’s picture book America’s White Table fits the bill in either case, in affirmation or as a resource.
I was personally unaware of the concept of “the white table,” set in military dining halls since the Vietnam War as a remembrance of the service men and women who have been held as prisoners of war or are missing in action. Set with specific meaningful items, the white table holds a special place in the hearts of our soldiers. In this story, three sisters assist their mom in setting a white table in their home for a Veteran’s Day dinner to be shared with their uncle who served in the Vietnam War. Their mother gently explains the concept and tells the story of their uncle’s experience as a prisoner of war. While tackling an obviously heavy subject, this book does so in a compassionate and sensitive manner, conveying the importance without being graphic or political.
Interspersed throughout the book are the first verse lyrics to “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” printed lightly and apart from the story’s text, almost like visual background music. The soft illustrations evoke emotion, and the color palette matches the quiet and reverent tone of the story. In what I’m seeing as a trend with many of the Sleeping Bear Press releases, an informative page appears at the end of the book providing more context and history, which I see as a fantastic springboard for discussions between parents and children after reading the book together.
America’s White Table emphasizes honoring, remembering and respecting our service members, perfect for Veteran’s Day, and every day. The lovely folks at Sleeping Bear Press are offering up three copies for giveaway (U.S. and Canada only, please). To be entered, leave one comment here. Feel free to publicly acknowledge your own loved ones who have honored our country with their service. We’ll announce the winners in the book column next Monday.
5 Minutes for Books staff reviewer Dawn’s own father Grant Courchaine and grandfather William Dery were proud members of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army respectively. Family and books are common themes on her blog, my thoughts exactly.