Reviews: The Tea Party in the Woods & The Good Little Book

theteapartywoods25583502Review: The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi
Source: Digital galley courtesy of Kids Can Press via NetGalley. Thank you!
Expected publication: August 1, 2015 by Kids Can Press
Verdict: Very Good

Book Description:

Kikko sets out after her father with a forgotten pie for Grandma. When she arrives at a strange house in the wintry woods, a peek in the window reveals that the footprints Kikko had been following did not belong to her father at all, but to a bear in a long coat and hat! Alice in Wonderland meets Little Red Riding Hood in this charmed tale.

Miyakoshi’s The Tea Party in the Woods is an elegantly illustrated, softly told tale that has- like many classic children’s tales- surreal undercurrents. When we begin the story, we’re introduced to young Kikki who goes running off after her father into the snow covered woods. She has with her a delicious pie and struggles to catch up to him. Someone wearing a distinguished coat appears in the distance and Kikko runs to them believing them to be her father. But it is, as the book description tells us, not her father but rather a bear…

The Tea Party in the Woods is indeed a charming story, but one that I think also tickles the imagination into thinking of darker fairytale endings. Kikko sits among wondrously friendly and helpful animals, each offering help to make a pie. But is everything really as it seems? I cannot help but feel that Miyakoshi’s muted and grey-leaning colour palette only works to add to the eerie atmosphere and almost shadowy feel of the story! In the end, Kikko does not meet a grim fate at the hands of devious or duplicitous creatures and The Tea Party ends in a rather lighthearted fashion. Even so, there is just something about Miyakoshi’s narrative approach and illustrative style that recalls an almost phantasmagorical way of storytelling!

Overall, The Tea Party in the Woods is a lovely and understated picture book. It reads quite similarly to that of a fairytale, albeit one that gets turned on its head in unexpected and charming ways. Readers who enjoy innovative retellings of classics, or picture books along the lines of Marianne Dubuc’s The Bus Ride or Kyo Maclear’s Virginia Wolf might especially enjoy this title.

I received this book as a digital galley from Kids Can Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

thegoodlittlebook23602710Review: The Good Little Book by Kyo Maclear, illus. Marion Arbona
Source: Digital galley courtesy of Tundra Books via NetGalley. Thank you!
Expected publication: August 11, 2015 by Tundra Books
Verdict: Very Good

Book Description:

Boy meets book. It’s not quite love at first sight, but a good little book grows on a boy, soon becoming his loyal companion . . . until, one day, the book is lost. Will the boy get back his good little book? Will the good little book survive on its own without a proper jacket? Open up this good little book to find out.

Having had the pleasure of recently reading Kyo Maclear’s & Katty Maurey’s The Specific Ocean, I couldn’t wait to jump into another picture book written by Maclear.

I have read a number of picture books about books; ones that talk about love of reading and praise the power and memory of books. So how does The Good Little Book fare among other similarly themed picture books? Very well, I think! While, on the face of it, it may seem like we have read this tale many times before: a young boy finds one seemingly not-so-special book that becomes his literary guiding light and alters his views on reading and books. But wait! The Good Little Book is just so much more than that message. It stands up and out from the pack due to two major things: Maclear’s narrative and Marion Arbona’s artwork.

Kyo Maclear has, I think, such an smooth and irresistible writing style in her picture books. Her narrative voice in The Good Little Book does not come across as heavy-handed or as trying too hard to impart a message. The Good Little Book reads like an adventure, a bedtime story, and fantasy all at once. Along with Maclear’s text, Marion Arbona’s illustrations are something to behold. Arbona’s fantastical and vivid images and colours add a dimension of vivaciousness and weight to Maclear’s words and so beautifully emphasize the reach and extraordinary scope of how books can impact our mind and world.

Overall, The Good Little Book is lovely to read and a wonder to the eye. Maclear has written another beautiful picture book, and Arbona’s illustrations are dynamic and fresh. Arbona’s illustrative work is new to me and now something I will have to follow!

I received this book as a digital galley from Tundra Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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