As a tea geek that loves to share my obsession with the young’uns in my life, I was excited to review Master Davey and The Magic Tea House: Legend of the Blue Tiger written by Susan Chodakiewitz and David De Candia, and illustrated by Kent Yoshimura.
The art is a treat! Bright colors with dancing swirls and paper cut-out patterns are the heart of this fable. Every page shows the main action, but there are details everywhere to keep children going back and discovering more (kind of like savoring the multiple flavors in a cup of tea). I wish I could read Chinese characters because every person in this story has one drawn on their ear and I want to know what they mean! I’ll have to ask a friend. There is even a game within the book to find hidden (English) words; enter them online at the site to unlock more fun. Plus, there’s a unique tea blend that goes with the book.
In this fable the hero must overcome three problems to save the day. We start off in Master Davey’s tea shop, which I totally want to visit. Master Davey encourages the main character, Hopper, to explore the complex and imaginative flavors of the teas he serves.
“What do you smell Hopper? What do you smell?”
“A bouquet of flowers…and a summer breeze…”
One brew, Blue Tiger Tea, is the most precious of teas and will be lost to the world forever due to pest problems in the one field where it grows in China. Through the magic of tea, Hopper is able to travel to China where he meets Camellia, whose family has no more seeds to plant. Together they travel to magical places where Hopper uses his courage to finally meet the Blue Tiger and get more seeds, helping Camellia’s family replant the special tea.
I enjoyed reading this book to my two young nieces. My only issue was gender. Stereotypically, the most powerful characters in the story are male (Hopper and the Blue Tiger), and the legend that is repeated several times is, “a boy that will save the Blue Tiger Tea.” While reading it to them, I changed “boy” to “child” so my listeners could at least imagine themselves as heroes in this story.
They were captivated by the art, and the phrase, “two leaves and a bud”—reference to the parts of the tea plant Hopper and Camellia help pick—stuck in my four-year-old niece’s head. Afterwards, my nieces and I picked our own tea (several mints, lemon balm, and lime-basil from my garden) and my littlest niece skipped along with a basket repeating her phrase over and over happily. We all went inside and had a tea party, revisiting our favorite pages of this lovely book.
Master Davey and the Magic Tea House will be available September 1, 2013.
GeekMom received this item for review purposes.