The Tea Party in the Woods
by Akiko Miyakoshi
Beautifully illustrated in deft strokes of charcoal, reading this book brings the reader into an enchanted, snow covered world. When Kikko's father goes through the woods to deliver a pie to Grandma's house, Kikko realizes that her father has forgotten the pie! She rushes after him, her red cap and red mittens the only bright spot in the snow-blanketed forest.
She falls in her haste to catch up to her father, dropping the pie, but she soon scrambles up again to see her father entering an old mansion—strange, she thinks. When she peers through the window, what does she see?
“But—he wasn't her father at all! Kikko had been following a great big bear!”
After a small lamb wearing a pea coat and carrying a handbag asks her if she has arrived in time for the tea party, Kikko follows the lamb inside, not sure what she'll discover. Inside, Kikko is stunned to find a gathering of all the woodland animals. At first, Kikko isn't sure what they will say, but with the turn of the page, they greet her enthusiastically:
“'Welcome!' they cheered. A small rabbit led Kikko to her seat....'We're about to serve the tea,' said the rabbit. 'You're just in time.'”
When Kikko shares that her pie is now crushed after she dropped it, the animals all chip in by letting her borrow a piece of each of their pies, which together, creates a wonderful, eclectic mix of pie pieces, each with different fillings and nuts from the woods.
All together, the animals lead Kikko to Grandma's house, where she is delighted by the pie that Kikko brings.
Filled with whimsical magical realism, “The Tea Party in the Woods” is sure to children who love fairy tales and animal stories. As we go into 2016, “The Tea Party in the Woods,” reminds us that there are always new friends to make and new stories to discover.
This article originally appeared in The Clarion Ledger.