Russell Wrestles the Relatives

I can’t even tell you how much I love this book! Really!

Title: Russell Wrestles the Relativesrussell-wrestles-the-relatives-9781481491594_lg
Written by: Cindy Chambers Johnson
Illustrated by: Daniel Duncan
Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 2018
Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/topics: family,  fitting in, wrestling

There was only one day left until Russell’s family reunion.
Everyone was excited.
Everyone except Russell.
Family reunions meant lots of hugging, hand shaking, and hair-tousling.

Brief synopsis (from
Everyone loves family reunions. Well everyone except Russell, whose family of big, brawny, and boisterous wrestlers has him on the run in this vibrant celebration of what it means to be a family.

When the Relatives Came meets Wrestlemania in debut author Cindy Chambers Johnson’s rollicking picture book about a family reunion with a most colorful cast of characters—from Lorry and Tory (the Twin Tornadoes) to Cousin Cora “The Cleaner” to Uncle “el monstruo” Marcoy.

Family reunions mean lots of hugging, handshaking, and hair tousling. And Russell’s relatives? Well, they are more…enthusiastic than most. BIGGER than most. BRAWNIER than most. They’re wrestlers! Skinny and scrawny Russell will have to meet, greet, and defeat this clan with some spectacular moves of his own!

russell-wrestles-the-relatives-9781481491594.in01Activities and Resources:
Write: Tell about a relative and how he/she shows his/her love for you.
What makes your family special? Write “how to fit in” instructions for your family.
Create your own signature moves for handshakes, hugs, happiness.
Interview a relative to learn about an ancestor you don’t know.
Compare and contrast your family to a family from a book, movie, or TV show.

Why I like this book:
This book is hysterical! You know how every family has one or two real characters? Well…you must meet this family – they’re all characters! The truly priceless illustrations and boisterous text are filled with humor, word play (I believe Johnson loves alliteration and playing with words as much as I do), and the love of family. Kids will rejoice when scrawny Russell finally finds his moves.

I can already hear the rising chorus of “read it again.” And really, you won’t mind.

Johnson masterfully takes the universal experience of a child at a family reunion and gives it a unique spin – with an endearingly executed child’s point of view and text that sings as it tickles your funny bone. This book is a total winner! Don’t miss it!


Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent activities and resources.

5 thoughts on “Russell Wrestles the Relatives

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