________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 3 . . . .September 28, 2007


Lady Ginny's Tea Parties.

Susan Rennick Jolliffe.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2007.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-55143-398-1.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Alison Mews.

**½ /4

Reviewed from f&g's.



[sample menu items for the May "Jeepers Peepers Pond Party": shoofly balls, mayfly mist, lazy larvae and pond-scum algae tea.]

Our Frog Tea Party went swimmingly! I looked spectacular in the old Dragon Boat. The escaping food looked happy. Cook looked smashing in her hip waders. Codger looked annoyed.


Using the premise that this book is the scrapbook of an elegant poodle named Lady Ginny, Jolliffe describes themed tea parties held for various creatures on the estate of the poodle's absent owners, the Duke and Duchess of Eatwell Manners. Conceptually, it's quite a clever book, from the imaginative menu items carefully chosen to match the diet of the invited guests to the slightly sardonic descriptions of the parties, including caption puns attributed to the attending animals. Unfortunately, the execution of the idea and the humour itself will appeal more to adults than to young children, and the fact that animals on the guest list one month are on the menu the next (squirrels, birds, moths) will undoubtedly offend many young sensibilities.

internal art

     Each double-page highlights a different monthly tea party, with visual and textual descriptions. On the left is a text box with the name of the month; the name of the party (such as "The Kitty-Spitty-Hot-Diggity-Doggity Tea"); the guest list; the featured tea (such as July's "Iced Compost Tea"); the menu items (such as "liver layer cake with chicken-lip icing"); and the featured teaware, which may include items such as pitcher plants or birdbaths. Because attention is paid to the calendar year and to seasonal vegetation, as well as the diet and migration habits of Canadian animals, this book has cross-curricular possibilities for science and math. It also may be used to model journal writing or other creative language projects. As a scrap-book, however, it is less successful as the illustrations do not imitate photographs but are large and overwhelmingly busy colour sketches. Detailed flora and fauna fill almost every inch of available space with frenetic activity in visual contrast to Ginny's descriptions of sedate and refined tea parties.

     The sophisticated humour and intricate illustrations will limit the book's readership. Observant children who like to pour over pictures to discover their hidden mysteries, and older ones who can appreciate the courtly language with its droll understatements will find much to enjoy in this book.

Recommended with reservations.

Alison Mews is the librarian of the Curriculum Materials Centre at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's, NL.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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