Droll entertainment that calls out for an international tea party.

HOW THE QUEEN FOUND THE PERFECT CUP OF TEA

A very proper queen goes on a world tour, visiting children who know both how to make tea and how to entice a royal to come out of her protective shell.

Resembling Victoria in stature and Carroll’s Red Queen in temperament, the white monarch finds herself unhappy with the tea brewed by her butler, James (also white). Traveling with her trusty manservant by hot air balloon in search of a better brew, she meets Noriko of Japan, Sunil of India, and Rana of Turkey. She not only drinks the tea found in those countries, but she even helps to brew the drink and has an adventure in friendship in each place. Although the queen communicates her disdain for such activities to James, and James dutifully informs each child, she eventually consents to snuggle Noriko’s kittens, dribble Sunil’s soccer ball, and dance with Rana. At the end, the queen invites the children to her garden and prepares the tea herself. The charm of this picture book is to be found in its repetitive language. Each voyage is told in almost the same wording, but in each sequence, the queen does a little more to make the tea, until she is quite self-sufficient and capable of enjoying human relationships. The amusing colored-pencil illustrations show the queen as she changes from her buttoned-up personality with proper hairdo created by her maids to a free spirit who does her own haphazard coiffure.

Droll entertainment that calls out for an international tea party. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4677-3904-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children...

TOYS GALORE

A fizzy yet revealing romp through the toy world.

Though of standard picture-book size, Stein and illustrator Staake’s latest collaboration (Bugs Galore, 2012, etc.) presents a sweeping compendium of diversions for the young. From fairies and gnomes, race cars and jacks, tin cans and socks, to pots ’n’ pans and a cardboard box, Stein combs the toy kingdom for equally thrilling sources of fun. These light, tightly rhymed quatrains focus nicely on the functions characterizing various objects, such as “Floaty, bubbly, / while-you-wash toys” or “Sharing-secrets- / with-tin-cans toys,” rather than flatly stating their names. Such ambiguity at once offers Staake free artistic rein to depict copious items capable of performing those tasks and provides pre-readers ample freedom to draw from the experiences of their own toy chests as they scan Staake’s vibrant spreads brimming with chunky, digitally rendered objects and children at play. The sense of community and sharing suggested by most of the spreads contributes well to Stein’s ultimate theme, which he frames by asking: “But which toy is / the best toy ever? / The one most fun? / Most cool and clever?” Faced with three concluding pages filled with all sorts of indoor and outside toys to choose from, youngsters may be shocked to learn, on turning to the final spread, that the greatest one of all—“a toy SENSATION!”—proves to be “[y]our very own / imagination.”

Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children everywhere. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6254-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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