How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea
written by Kate Hosford; illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
2017 (Carolrhoda Books)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
"James," she yelled. "This tea is horrible!"
The Queen, looking like she came from Wonderland as imagined by Maurice Sendak, is not happy. And when the Queen is not happy, nobody is happy. The problem is her cup of tea has stopped being tasty. So she and her butler James head off in a hot air balloon to find a perfect cup. When they land, a girl named Noriko greets them and mentions that the Queen is "just in time." Her kitties could use a loving snuggle. James tells Noriko that the Queen isn't here for that. Doesn't matter. Noriko says she needs to do it. A little awkward at first, the Queen finds her groove and actually enjoys the snuggle. The six selfie-like shots of the Queen and the cat are a hoot. Feeling fine, the Queen asks Noriko for a cup of tea. Noriko grants her wish, but only if she helps. The Queen manages to turn on the faucet, but that's about the extent of her capabilities. She's not used to doing anything for herself, so this is quite the triumph. While enjoying Noriko's tea, it's not the perfect cup so the Queen and James are off to find another cup. They go on to meet two other children, Sunil and Rana, and the Queen dribbles a soccer ball, dances, and helps a little more to make tea on each successive trip. Still, she hasn't found the perfect cup of tea, but now she knows what she has to do next in her search. The perfect cup of tea is found, but in a surprising place.
Is there a more universal item shared than tea? Even at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, they serve tea during the brutal winters. How the Queen is a marvelously clever celebration of this ubiquitous drink, but also of learning how to be independent and how to be a friend. When the Queen learns how to make her own tea, it's like a student who learns how to tie their own shoe. Sure, it's nice when someone ties your shoe, but it's more satisfying when you can do it yourself. Even better for the Queen, she shares her tea with her new friends. If you want to encourage your students to be more independent and friendly (And who doesn't?), invite them for this splendid cup of tea.