The tea party in the woods

Akiko Miyakoshi, 1982-

Book - 2015

When Kikko's father forgets the cake he was to take to her grandmother one snowy day, Kikko follows him with the cake only to reach an unexpected destination and meet some surprising new friends.

Saved in:

Children's Room Show me where

1 / 2 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room jE/Miyakosh Checked In
Children's Room jE/Miyakosh Due Jun 21, 2023
Picture books
Toronto, ON ; Tonawanda, NY : Kids Can Press [2015]
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations (some color) ; 26 cm
Main Author
Akiko Miyakoshi, 1982- (author)
Review by New York Times Review

Three picture books evoke the joy of adventure and discovery, without the interference of fearful adults. BEYOND THE POND Written and illustrated by Joseph Kuefler 40 pp. Balzer & Bray. $17.99. (Picture book; ages 4 to 8) THE TEA PARTY IN THE WOODS Written and illustrated by Akiko Miyakoshi 32 pp. Kids Can Press. $16.95. (Picture book; ages 3 to 7) THE LITTLE GARDENER Written and illustrated by Emily Hughes 40 pp. Flying Eye Books. $17.95. (Picture book; ages 3 to 7) ON MY WALK to the studio each morning, I pass a busy playground. Recently I overheard one mother telling another: "Thank God! I found him! He was hiding." She held the sheepish child firmly by the wrist. I have felt the intense panic of temporarily losing a child, but nonetheless I shot the kid a sympathetic glance. It's hard to be an explorer these days. Summer camps and preschools tout "exploration" as part of their agenda, as long as you wear a brightly colored uniform T-shirt, never stray out of sight and explore only things that have already been thoroughly explored. Thank goodness for picture books. It seems we may have arrived at - or returned to - an age in picture books where the children depicted are free to explore the limits of their imagination unrestricted by adult fears for their safety. Over the years, cautious editors have asked me to draw in helmets and seatbelts and parents. Once, on an image of a child looking out at the moon, I was told to add safety bars to the window. I'm happy to present three new books that are refreshingly free of such constraints. Ernest D., in Joseph Kuefler's "Beyond the Pond," decides today is the day he's going to explore the depths of the pond behind his rather dull house. His trusty dog by his side, he gathers a very pleasing array of explorer supplies: butterfly net, camera, sword, chocolate; all of which, in a satisfying abandon of logic, fit into a tiny backpack. "And with that, Ernest D. dove ... down between the fishes and the frogs, past the squid and sharks and shapeless things, into his pond forever deep." On a glorious two-page spread, inky waters, elegant weedy fronds and balletic squid are illuminated by a dramatic beam of light from Ernest's flashlight. He dives deeper and deeper, to emerge at last in a magical, parallel world, inhabited by dinosaurs and koalas and a mouse riding a unicorn. (The world is described as big and raucous, but the pastel-hued, misty illustration suggests quite a serene scene.) "All this was hiding in a pond,' said Ernest D. ?How exceptional.'" When our hero returns home, he finds the world "wasn't quite as he'd left it." Spring has sprung, or maybe he's just seeing everything with fresh eyes. Kuefler's digitally layered illustrations are reminiscent of Jon Klassen's and are spare enough that inconsistencies from page to page niggle. But the book has a knockout cover, there's wit in the details, and the before-and-after aerial views make thoughtful endpapers. Kikko, the child in Akiko Miyakoshi's "The Tea Party in the Woods," also sets out alone into the unknown. She is on a mission to catch up with her father, who has forgotten to take a pie intended for Kikko's grandmother, whose house lies on the other side of the woods. Overnight snowfall has transformed the world into a still, quiet, black-and-white place, beautifully rendered in smudgy charcoal and pencil, warmed by Kikko's red accessories and yellow hair. Miyakoshi's illustrations are quietly magical. Viewed close up, they seem to be made of simple grainy marks, but if you hold the book at arm's length, the drawings take on the appearance of selectively tinted old photographs. Kikko spies a man ahead in a long coat. She runs to him but falls and crushes the pie box. She struggles on, following him to an unfamiliar house. As he takes off his hat she realizes it's not her father at all, but a bear! Curious, Kikko enters a surreal tea party of woodland creatures, who stare at her with arresting, unblinking expressions. There is something wonderfully unsettling and reassuring about this scene. Although they walk upright and wear clothes, these wild boars and rabbits, badgers and deer have an animal countenance. They don't wink or grin or give high fives. They welcome her to join their feast without much change of expression. If you've ever looked a wild animal in the eye, you'll recognize how this benign acceptance feels like a gift. The animals escort Kikko to Grandma's house, in a joyful parade through the snow. "My dear, did you come all this way on your own?" Grandma asks, and Kikko replies, smiling, "You're never alone in the woods." It's a gem of a book, with just enough Grimm foreboding and a suitably enigmatic ending. The title character in Emily Hughes's "The Little Gardener" is a tiny child who lives in a little straw house, in a forest of giant plants, with a pet worm for company. His garden means everything to him. "It was his home. It was his supper. It was his joy." He works "very, very hard," but the weeds are relentless and his seedlings wither. It's an overwhelming task for one so small. Hughes's illustrations thrum with life. The drawings are a tangle of Gauguin and Rousseau and botanical journals. They remind me of a rain forest floor - the closer you look, the more you see until the whole image seems to writhe. With this in mind, I have a small issue with the opening of the book. The illustration that accompanies the words "This was the garden. It didn't look like much" looks to me like a lot. It's a beautiful William Morris-y pattern of exotic plants growing out of black, volcanic-looking soil. But we learn from the text that the garden is dying. The gardener's only success is a magnificent red zinnia, which gives him hope. But it seems hope is not enough, and one night, feeling defeated, he sends a tiny wish out into the garden: "I wish I had a bit of help." Nobody hears his words, but a girl who lives in the big house nearby sees his flower and is inspired. As the exhausted little gardener sleeps through a whole month, the girl enlists a friend and together they nurture the garden into spectacular bloom. When the little gardener wakes up, his world has been transformed into a dark, rich forest of flowers. He returns to work, as diligent as ever, but there's new reverence and gratitude on all sides for this labor of love. Last summer I visited my boyfriend's childhood home in New Hampshire. Behind the house, he told me, was a forest that he explored - fearlessly - when he was 6. It was vast and limited only by his imagination. The forest, it now became clear, was no more than three trees deep. The neighbor's trimmed lawn could be seen through the undergrowth. We walked through it all the same and saw, at the foot of a tree, a carefully arranged circle of pebbles. SOPHIE BLACKALL is the illustrator, most recently, of "A Fine Dessert."

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [September 6, 2015] Review by Booklist Review

Kikko is crushed when she accidentally ruins the pie she's taking to her grandmother's house, but she keeps following the man she thinks is her father through the snowy woods. Only she doesn't recognize the house once they arrive, and the man she's been following isn't her father at all but a bear in a suit! Luckily, the strange building is home to a party attended by all kinds of friendly woodland creatures in their finest attire. They warmly welcome her in, replace her ruined pie with wedges from their own baked goods, and escort her to her grandmother's house in a merry parade. Miyakoshi's meticulous, realistic charcoal illustrations show the starkness of the winter woods in crisp white and shadowy blacks and grays, with the exception of a few patches of red and yellow, which grow more frequent along with the increasingly warm, festive atmosphere. Though the animals initially appear slightly menacing, Miyakoshi's fairy-tale-like language, fanciful scenes, and cheery ending make this offbeat take on Little Red Riding Hood perfect for sharing.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

With great delicacy and keen draftsmanship, Japanese artist Miyakoshi weaves fairy-tale elements into a dreamy and sometimes haunting story. In the manner of Little Red Riding Hood, Kikko sets off through the snowy woods to her grandmother's with the pie her father has forgotten; she spies him walking far ahead of her and follows him to a house she's never seen before. In a genuinely spooky scene, she peeps through the window to discover that the man in the hat and overcoat she has followed isn't her father-it's an imposing bear in a three-piece suit. Kikko is ushered into the dining room, where an even more arresting spread reveals a tableful of formally dressed animals-a boar, two stags, the bear, and many more-who gaze at Kikko in wordless surprise. At that moment, the story shifts. "Please, come in and warm yourself," the animals say, greeting her with kindness. In the end, there's a new pie and a parade to Kikko's grandmother's house. The graceful proportions, atmospheric detail, and quiet, bewitching light of Miyakoshi's charcoals distinguish this small gem. Ages 3-7. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2-This work feels new and old, combining motifs from traditional and canonical literature. Elements from "Red Riding Hood" and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland have the strongest presence with possible nods to "Goldilocks" and the less-known tale of the "Twelve Months." Kikko chases through the woods after her father with a pie for Grandma. Finding herself outside a different house, she joins a tea party. When her animal hosts hear that her pie had been crushed, they assemble an assorted dessert and parade with her to Grandma's house before disappearing. The translated text seems a bit flat and stilted in comparison to the fresh story concept and the pacing tends to lag at times, occasionally pausing on uninspired dialogue. Overall, the illustrations work well in some aspects and fall short in others. With a blend of realism and surrealism, Miyakoshi's style is reminiscent of Anthony Browne. The texture of the charcoal on paper gives the dark trees of the forest a wavery roughness as the author-illustrator artfully creates a barren landscape with the adept use of value, white space, and perspective. Although the stark bleakness makes sense for the outdoor scenes and Miyakoshi's tender grayness fits the real-life frame, the tea party scenes have a static, dusty quality for example, when the animals stare upon the newcomer through what might be described as a dry haze. With the restraint of the monochromatic palette and spot color, the wildly shifting perspective feels unnecessarily dramatic. The greatest disappointment may be that Kikko's minimal facial features occasionally read as inappropriately cross, comical, or smug, suggesting that perhaps more than just words are lost in the translation. VERDICT This is a delightfully unique story with striking illustrations but lacks the magic of a more lyrical translation and comprehensively distinguished visuals.-Erin Reilly-Sanders, Ohio State University, Columbus © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Horn Book Review

On her way to Grandma's house, Kikko gets lost and ends up at an animals' tea party. When the guests see that the pie intended for her grandmother has been ruined, they generously donate slices from their own pies and accompany Kikko to her destination. Evocatively smudgy charcoal illustrations with touches of color ably capture the quiet woods and the ebullient tea party. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

When Kikko wakes up to snow, her father goes off to clear the walk around Grandma's house but forgets the pie he was to take with him. Kikko hurries to catch up to him, falling and crushing the pie in the process, but she discovers she has been following not her dad but a bear in a suit and hat! She follows him to a house she's not seen before, where a well-dressed lamb invites her to tea. Around the tea table are seated carefully attired animals, greeting Kikko with interested gazes. They sit her down, invite her to eat and drink, and replace the smashed pie with slices of their own forest-made pies before accompanying her to Grandma's in a grand parade. The illustrations are lovely and mysterious: what looks like charcoal or pencil softly indicates forest and interiors as well as the visages of upright and clothed deer, bear, rabbit, goat, and others. Spare use of color sparks in Kikko's bright gold hair, her red hat, and the multihued pie slices. Minimal line and shadow suggest the forest as a Japanese print might, while the tumbled richness of the tea table evokes rich Dutch still lifes. Kikko's family reads as Asian, perhaps Japanese, and the animals are as serene and otherworldly as Totoro. As beguilingly surreal as the Mad Hatter's party, with its own enigmatic appeal. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.