Book: Tea with Oliver
Author: Mika Song
Age Range: 3-6
Tea with Oliver by Mika Song is a satisfying story about friendship (and tea), aimed at preschoolers. Oliver, a cat, "talks to himself a lot." He's a bit lonely, and wishes that someone would have tea with him. Philbert, a mouse, lives beneath Oliver's couch. Philbert would LOVE to have tea with Oliver, but is too "too shy to come out from under the couch." Philbert attempts to get Oliver's attention via a series of notes, but lightly comic misunderstandings intervene (as when Oliver mistakes one of the notes for a handkerchief and uses it to blow his nose). Oliver's cousin turns up and hosts a party in Oliver's house, but the rowdy crowd is too busy dancing for tea, and breaks the teacups. Of course things turn out ok in the end.
Tea with Oliver is a celebration of one-on-one friendship and of quiet pastimes in general. Neither Oliver nor Philbert enjoys the big party (what mouse would enjoy a room full of rowdy cats?). But they are both quite happy at the end of the book to be drinking a cup of tea together.
I was a bit concerned on reading this with my daughter that the book's focus on the joys of a cup of tea might not resonate with a seven-year-old, tea-drinking being a fairly adult pastime. But of course I forgot the wide appeal of the tea party. Imagine, if you will, the joy of having a tea party with a friendly little mouse in a pink shirt. Tea with Oliver reminded me a bit of A Visitor for Bear (by Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton), which also ends with a mouse and another animal having a quiet cup of tea together, but aimed at a slightly younger audience.
Song's minimalist illustrations are direct and readily accessible for preschoolers. The text consists mainly of dialog, coupled with a minimum of straightforward sentences like: "So Philbert decides to march right up and hand Oliver the letter." This makes Tea with Oliver a quick, read, perfect for bedtime or breakfast. Tea with Oliver is a warm, friendly tale to which my daughter and I both gave two thumbs up. Recommended, and a great fit for preschool storytime.
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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