The Tea Party in the Woods


Image Credit: Kids Can Press, Akiko Miyakoshi


Japanese author/illustrator Akiko Miyakoshi creates a whimsical and mysterious winter fantasy inspired by Little Red Riding Hood. The Tea Party in the Woods was originally printed in Japan in 2010 (もりのおくのおちゃかいへ) but was translated to English and printed in Canada/US this year. I’m always happy and thankful for this special type of global exchange. There are SO many great stories out there!

In The Tea Party in the Woods, Kikko sets out after her father on a wintry morning. He forgot the pie for grandma and so she bravely walks through the woods in the deep snow to catch up with him. She finally sees him and rushes to catch up but drops and crushes the pie box. After she gets up, she follows him again but he walks into a strange house! Turns out it’s not her father at all…but a bear wearing a suit! She’s invited into the animals’ tea party where everyone is having a lovely time with music and delicious food. The animals share slices of all their lovely pies to make a special new pie for grandma.

This book is lovely and odd. Miyakoshi’s sketchy charcoal and pencil illustrations stand out against the white background. Her sparse use of color is just enough to highlight and draw attention, similar to Sydney Smith’s use of color in Sidewalk FlowersThe page where Kikko enters the party is a bit spooky; all the animals stare at her with wide eyes. Perhaps they’re just as surprised to see her as she is them! Snuggle up with a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy The Tea Party in the Woods with your children.

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Family, Little Red Riding Hood, Community, Determination, Friendship, Party, Animals, Pie, Party, Mystery, Winter, Woods, Global Exchange
Book Info: The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi, 2015 Kids Can Press, ISBN: 9781771381079


Bernice Gets Carried Away


Image Credit: Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin Group), Hannah E. Harrison


In Bernice Gets Carried Away, Bernice gets carried away and gets carried away!

Bernice is in a bad mood and she’s not ashamed about it one bit! Even though she’s at a party, everything is going wrong for her; she doesn’t get a frosting rose on her cake slice, she gets a nasty warm soda and she doesn’t even get to hit the piñata before some big kid bursts it open. It’s just a bad day overall. Suddenly she spots the balloons and decides to make her day better by snatching them before anyone else can but they carry her up up and away! While dangling in the storm clouds, she realizes that it’s better to be nice and her generosity makes her a little lighter.

The illustrations in Bernice Gets Carried Away are gorgeous. Very detailed acrylic paintings accompany the story. From the whiskers on Fox’s face to the tiny details in Bernice’s annoyed expressions, the art is beautiful. Harrison’s use of color is also great; it ranges from gloomy gray hues to a bright, spring pastel palette. The lesson to take away from this book is, it’s okay to be grumpy sometimes (we all have our days) but it’s important to remember to care for others and not get carried away!

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Emotions, Discussion, Animals, Humor, Lessons, Party
Book Info: Bernice Gets Carried Away by Hannah E. Harrison, 2015 Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin Group), ISBN: 9780803739161

So Much

Image Credit: Candlewick Press, Trish Cooke/Helen Oxenbury

Image Credit: Candlewick Press, Trish Cooke/Helen Oxenbury

My mother found this book for me at a thrift store and I’m so grateful she did! Trish Cooke is Afro-Caribbean from the UK and not only does the book show a loving family of color but she uses Afro-Caribbean English to write the story. I also really like her book Full, Full, Full of Love. The beginning of So Much has a nice rhythm that’s great for little ones to follow. Another thing I love about this book is that it’s illustrated by the great Helen Oxenbury.  Oxenbury and Cooke create a lovable story about a little baby and his family that loves him SO MUCH.

So Much begin with the baby sitting with his mom, simply enjoying the day, then the doorbell rings and another member of the family arrives. Each time someone new comes, they say they want to squeeze the baby, kiss the baby, so much! The father comes home tired from work to a house full of love.  There are some negative reviews online for this book’s “bad grammar.” I don’t think those reviewers took the time to research the author’s background or simply didn’t care. I love the addition of Afro-Caribbean English because 1). It is different and 2). Cooke is sharing her culture with her readers.

Oxenbury’s gouache illustrations are lovely; her paintings depict movement and joy and love. I especially love the pages where the family is crowded together, dancing and having a good time because it reminds me of my family. I also love how 90s the illustrations are; there are lots of sneakers, baggy shirts, caps and funky prints (This book was first printed in 1994!). In the author/illustrator notes at the back of the book, Oxenbury says that this book was the first time she had to illustrate only humans (none of her signature animals at all) and that it was a challenge. I think she did an excellent job and if you look closely, the baby’s teddy bear has great expressions! I think you will enjoy this book so much!

Recommended for: Toddlers and up
Great for: Family, Diversity, Cultural Diversity,
Book Info: So Much by Trish Cooke/Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, 1997 Candlewick Press, ISBN: 9780763602963
*Note– This book is possibly out of print. If you can’t find it at a bookstore, check at your local library, used bookstores and online.