Oliver (a white cat with orange spots) wishes for a friend he can share a pot of tea with.
He loves tea—as does Philbert, a mouse who lives right in the unknowing Oliver’s house, even though Philbert tries to get Oliver’s attention all the time. Oliver’s solemn moon face, wide-set dot eyes, and pert mouth convey both vulnerability and formality, while Philbert’s miniature body and outsized efforts to communicate with his oblivious roomie make readers’ hearts ache. So many unnoticed overtures, missed gestures, and misconstrued tries at friendship! Philbert writes letters, launches paper airplanes, and even shouts from under the couch, but he never manages to connect with Oliver. An airy palette lightens things up, with gauzy grays, pinks, and peaches. White space, roomy watercolor illustrations, and clear, confident black linework allow readers to focus on these unlikely friends, their feelings, and the amusing mishaps that keep them apart. Oliver mistakes the ping of a paper plane for a needling flea, and he accidentally sweeps an introductory note back under the sofa while singing the “lonesome apartment bluuues….” The darling rhyming of “tea” and “me” recurs throughout, delivered in turns by both Oliver and Philbert, enacting a conversation between the two before they even meet—as they inevitably, finally do.
Charming and as sweet as a tea cake. (Picture book. 4-8)