Teaflet & Roog Make a Mess by Jeanne Birdsall

Tousle-haired siblings Teaflet & Roog narrowly avert a domestic disaster in this chapter book by Penderwicks author Jeanne Birdsall.

Teaflet & Roog Make a Mess by Jeanne Birdsall, illustrated by Jane Dyer. Knopf, 2021, 92 pages.

Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10

Recommended for: ages 6-10

Trelfdom is easy to overlook, even–or especially–if you’re looking for it. It’s a tiny place with a higgledy-piggledy house in an enormous tree. That’s where the title siblings live: Teaflet with her gift for helping animals and Roog with his unending stream of delectable baked goods. It almost time for Roog’s annual strawberry jam party, and he’d determined this year’s event will be the most memorable ever. But it may just be memorable for all the wrong reasons, as one needy animal after another invades their crowded house.

The gentle story lacks tension and feels more like a framework for the illustrations. Author and illustrator, as they explain in “To Our Readers,” are friends and neighbors. Jane Dyer is an accomplished artist, with over 50 picture books to her credit; for this outing she crafted figures out of wool from her own sheep using the needle-felting technique. The title characters are adorable and their many animal friends scarcely less cute, all staged in miniature settings with painstaking detail. Though thin, the story is told winsomely, as one would expect from the author of the Penderwick series.

Overall Rating: 3.75 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 3.5
  • Artistic/literary value: 4

Read more about our ratings here.

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Janie Cheaney

Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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2 Comments

  1. Jenn on August 13, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    My children, ages 3.5 and 5.5, ADORE this book! I initially sought it out because I personally have loved Jeanne Birdsall’s Penderwicks series. She has such a talent for beautiful prose that flows easily as a read-aloud, and I just had a good feeling about Teaflet and Roog… (The illustration style was certainly intriguing!)

    What a fun read! The writing style is a bit reminiscent of a Beatrix Potter classic, and the subject matter is lighthearted, making it a perfect read-aloud for the kids and me. Even my younger child has been captivated by the rich writing, undetered by the elevated language. And we have thoroughly enjoyed all of the felted animals.

    I can see how the story might feel a bit dull and uneventful to an older child reading it alone. But I think it’s all in the delivery; as a family read-aloud, it is a treasure! At the kids’ insistence, we read the entire book cover-to-cover three times in the first two days. Definitely a new favorite!

    • Janie Cheaney on August 14, 2021 at 8:12 am

      Thanks, Jenn. You’re right–it’s an excellent read-aloud for younger children. I’ve tried to find out if it’s to be a series, but no word on that yet.

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