CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 7. . . .October 16, 2015
Kids Can Press’ new picture book for young children, The Tea Party in the Woods, is a form of the story of Little Red Riding Hood’s journey to visit her grandma. Kikko embarks on an adventure as she rushes to catch up with her father who is on the way to visit Grandma. Her father has unknowingly left behind the pie intended for Grandma’s dessert. With pie in hand, Kikko follows footsteps in the snow leading, she believes, to her grandma’s house. Alas, she soon discovers that the footsteps lead to a strange house. She peeks through the window and sees the house is occupied by well-dressed forest animals. A lamb then invites Kikko to join the animals at their tea party.
Author and illustrator Akiko Miyakoshi lives in Tokyo. Originally published in Japanese in 2010, the English translation of Miyakoshi’s text complements the gentle atmosphere evoked by her artwork. The illustrations were constructed through the use of charcoal, pencil, and coloured ink. The spare use of reds and yellows adds visual interest to what are predominantly greyscale pictures. The colours draw the eye; however, we sometimes wondered why the artist drew our eye in particular directions. For example, on a page where a rabbit and boar are speaking, neither is in colour, yet an oven mitt in the lower left hand corner of the illustration is depicted in bright red. As such, the reader is potentially distracted away from the speaking characters. That said, Miyakoshi’s skilful use of shapes and shades invites the reader into her pictures. The artwork is viewed from interesting and varied viewpoints—on one page, readers look down on the action, on another they look up through the picture, and, on another page, readers view the action from the side.
Throughout the book, the writing is engaging. The translation of Miyakoshi’s text consists of simple, manageable words that young readers will mostly navigate with success. We enjoyed the clever plot twist and, indeed, the feel of the book throughout. The Tea Party in the Woods has a happy ending and leaves readers satisfied. We believe young readers will enjoy exploring The Tea Party in the Woods on their own while adults similarly will enjoy sharing it with the young people in their lives.
Dr. Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba. He specialises in literature for children.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.