My husband has observed that enjoying tea is a symbol of peace, and I agree. It is remarkable that so many children’s books feature teatime as an event or a detail in an illustration, inviting the reader to pause reflectively as the conflict in the story is either suspended or finally ended.
There are many wonderful children’s books that celebrate tea! Here are three of our family’s picture book favorites. We love them because the stories are well-written, the illustrations are nicely-done, and they fit perfectly in a houseful of little boys who happen to appreciate tea parties with real china teacups and homemade chai or lemon herbal tea with too much sugar. I’m already thinking of more tea books to share in the future, so stay tuned…
Tea Rex, written and illustrated by Molly Idle (Viking, 2013). Tea Rex is written as a tea party etiquette guide in which the pictures show so much more than the text suggests. When a prim little girl and her smartly dressed younger brother invite a tyrannosaurus rex for tea, the results are both disastrous and hilarious, with a delightful ending. Every time I read it I notice something new that makes me smile.
A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton (Candlewick, 2008). Bear is a curmudgeon, and Mouse is incorrigible. Bear wants to be left alone to make his breakfast in peace, but Mouse persists in showing up unexpectedly until they finally have a cup of tea together, and then…sorry, go read the book! I love the vocabulary, the crisp dialogue, the expressive illustrations, and the example of someone who insists on being a friend to the unlovable. Three more stories of Bear and Mouse are also available.
The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (McElderry Books, 1993). There are many variations on the traditional tale “The Three Little Pigs,” but my favorite is The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig. In this version, three cuddly wolves work together to build their house, starting with brick and increasing the strength and security of their construction material with every attack from the aggressive pig. Each time they barely escape with their china teapot intact, until they finally decide on an unconventional solution and end with a peaceful tea party.
For more topical lists of picture books, how about these themes: math recommendations from Janie, baseball books from Betsy, and a roundup of “just because” picture books. How about sharing these over a cup of our favorite tea and scones?