Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea

How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea

Kate Hosford
Illustrator:  Gabi Swiatkowska 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Carolrhoda Books, 2017   ISBN: 978-1467739047

Every morning the queen gets up and her maids dress her and do her hair. Her butler makes her tea, which she drinks alone. Over time the queen’s morning tea ceases to give her any joy or pleasure. In fact, with every passing day it tastes worse and worse until she decides that she simply cannot drink the tea any longer. She “must find the perfect cup of tea,” and soon enough the queen and her long-suffering butler, James, are floating across lands and seas in a hot-air balloon.

The queen decides when they have gone far enough and James brings the hot-air balloon down. The queen then meets a little girl called Noriko who announces that the queen is just in time because her cats would like to be snuggled. The queen instructs James to tell Noriko that she does not snuggle anything. Most people would back down at this point, but Noriko does not. She feels that this is the perfect time for the queen to try snuggling.

Before the queen quite knows what is what she is snuggling, and being snuggled, by Noriko’s cat. The queen finds the whole experience “rather strenuous,” and she asks Noriko if she might have some tea. Noriko is happy to make some tea, though she expects the queen to help, which the monarch, who has never even made the effort to help in the tea making process, manages to do.

Noriko makes the tea, using the methods favored in her native land of Japan, and then the little girl and the queen partake of their refreshment, talking all the while.

The queen then says her goodbyes and she and James sail off in their balloon. Though Noriko’s tea was delicious, it was not the perfect cup of tea and so the quest must continue.

All too often, when something is not quite right we blame something or someone else for the problem. We never consider that maybe, just maybe, the problem lies with us. In this delightful picture book we meet a cold, rather stuck up queen who takes a journey and discovers that sometimes what we are looking for is right under our noses.

What is charming about this book is that in addition to the engaging story we also get to learn about the tea traditions in three countries. At the back of the book the author also offers us an author’s note in which she tells us about tea, and about the journey that she took as she wrote this book.