Posted in programs, Storytime

Harvest Festival Programming

The Mid-Autumn Festival starts tomorrow, October 4th, so I’ve been doing some programming with the kids here to celebrate. Yesterday, I had a Fortune Bookies workshop where we made fortune cookie bookmarks with felt. The glue didn’t hold so great – I really need to get a hot glue gun – but the moms jumped right in and made the best of a Make It Work Situation and saved the day with a few discreetly placed staples.

PictureNot one of my Fortune Bookies – this is Heidi Fiedler’s model.

 

Today’s program was more successful. I had a tea party! Ever since reading How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea, I knew I wanted to use the story in a tea party setting. The Festival provided the perfect time. I bought some moon cakes, palmiers, and milk tea and set up a proper tea table, cutting the moon cakes up so everyone could share, laying out bags of palmiers so I’d have extra food on hand, and pouring cups of milk tea for everyone. I was able to accommodate 10 kids and 4 parents, with no leftovers and a very happy group!

The reception to How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea was good; they were engaged and interested in the different teas throughout the book. Next up was Loretta Seto’s book, Mooncakes, which I loved. It’s the story of a little girl sitting with her parents, underneath the full harvest moon, and telling the three most popular stories about the Harvest Moon: the story of Chang’E and how she flew to the moon; of how Wu Gang chops away at a tree to gain immortality, and the Jade Rabbit. This one seemed to be the biggest hit with the families as a whole. I finished up with Grace Lin’s Thanking the Moon, for my younger kiddos, and had one QH Kid say, “That’s a really short one.”

All in all, a nice little party to welcome the harvest.

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate

Happy British National Tea Day! Spend it with The Queen!

How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea, by Kate Hosford/Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska, (March 2017, Carolrhoda Books), $18.99, ISBN: 978-1-4677-3904-7

Recommended for ages 5-10

A pampered queen is fed up with her usual cup of tea and demands that her butler take her in search of the perfect cup of tea. The duo travel via hot air balloon to gorgeous, green, tea-growing lands and meet three children: Noriko, from Japan; Sunil, from India, and Rana, from Turkey, all of whom teach the Queen to make tea as they do – after she snuggles a kitten, dribbles a soccer ball, and dances. The Queen, noticeably more relaxed with each trip, returns home, invites the children to a tea party, and greets them, hair askew, smiling, and happy.

The soothing repetition of this story, combined with Gabi Swiatkowska’s colored pencils and the strong individual characters Kate Hosford creates all come together to give readers a story about unity, multiculturalism, and letting your hair down. The Queen’s transformation from stuffy and coddled to open and self-sufficient is a joy to watch. Each new experience, each new child she meets, expands her world view, signified by the different teas she enjoys.

The tea rituals are also repetitive in their own way; each ingredient is laid out, and the steps in making each tea are illustrated, inviting readers (with adult help) to make their own tea. An author’s note at the end touches on the history of tea and the author’s inspiration in coming up with the Queen.

This makes a great addition to a multicultural storytime, or a fun addition to a food-related storytime (have some cooled tea prepared for kids to try). I read this one with my 4 year old, who loved the idea of traveling by balloon and meeting new kids – wasn’t so interested in the tea – and that’s the whole point of the book. Talk to kids about being self-sufficient and open to new experiences, and you’ll be just fine.

Want a Queenly storytime? Pick up Gabi Swiatkowska’s own book, Queen on Wednesday (2014), and see how the two monarchs match up.

Updated: Lerner Books just posted an interview with the author AND downloadable tea recipes!

Don’t forget to enter this Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win a copy of How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea!