How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea

(Author) (Illustrator)

Product Details

Carolrhoda Books (R)
Publish Date
9.3 X 11.1 X 0.4 inches | 0.01 pounds
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About the Author

Kate Hosford is the author of several picture books, including Infinity and Me which won the New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book award and was named an ALA Notable Children's Book. She lives in Brooklyn.

If you're born on this planet, you're set for a colorful life, whether you want it or not. I found myself in Eastern Europe, in southern Poland, in a little village with a weird name.

I don't remember making that decision.

The first thing I remember are the crows. Crows are to Poland what ravens are to London. The crows would hold daily conferences right in front of my house, spreading their black selves like a carpet over the grassy field. I'd run up to them and watch them rise like a shimmering giant, watch the sky swallow them up.

I wrote stories until it was decided that there was too much kissing going on--in the stories, of course, not in real life. I was forbidden to write any more. I drew pictures, of princesses mostly. As there were no objections, I kept at it all through elementary school, gymnasium, college, and right into my professional life.

While at elementary school, I really did believe I was a princess. Not the Disney kind, but one more along the lines of a Russian folktale, the princess lost and never found, waiting patiently for the day it was officially announced.

I entered the Lyceum of Art at fourteen and discovered it was full of princesses, as well as knights. Sometime around the third year of school it dawned on me that if I was the "lost and never found" kind of princess, there was no use waiting for the official announcement. So I climbed on top of my wardrobe to take a look at things from a different perspective and decided it was time to go to America.

I took my dog with me. My dog was very fond of eating toilet paper, and since we had no such commodity in Poland at the time, I figured he'd do better in America. Plus, I couldn't bear to leave him behind.

Gabi Swiatkowska was born in Tychy, Poland, and attended the Lyceum of Art in Bielsko-Biala, as well as the Cooper Union School of Art in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.


"The creators of the thought-provoking Infinity and Me are back with a tale of a pompous queen who travels around the world to find what she is missing at home. Every morning, the queen wakes up to a team of helpers who dress her, brush her hair, and--most important--make her tea. As her tea begins to taste progressively worse, she demands that the butler escort her via hot-air balloon to different countries in search of the perfect cup. The queen visits children in Japan, India, and Turkey, who treat her as just another friend. After snuggling with one child's kitten, playing soccer with another, and dancing with the third, she requests a cup of tea from each child. The queen admits that they all taste better than her own, and eventually realizes that while tea leaves are important, friendship is the secret ingredient her brew was lacking. The book concludes with the entire group of friends meeting at the palace for a tea party with the new and improved queen. This book is a delightful multicultural experience, with text and illustrations that complement each other. The colored pencil drawings capture the whimsy of the world tour while offering intricate details. The facial expressions of the queen, who takes herself much too seriously, are juxtaposed with those of the sweet children, who are completely unimpressed by the monarch's royal status. Each visit includes pictorial instructions for how tea is made in each culture. The story will appeal to a wide range of ages, as young ones will take to the adventure and characters, while older ones will benefit from learning about the lives of children from other countries. VERDICT Beautiful and charming, this addition will entice a variety of readers and could be useful during lesson planning."--School Library Journal


"A very proper queen goes on a world tour, visiting children who know both how to make tea and how to entice a royal to come out of her protective shell. Resembling Victoria in stature and Carroll's Red Queen in temperament, the white monarch finds herself unhappy with the tea brewed by her butler, James (also white). Traveling with her trusty manservant by hot air balloon in search of a better brew, she meets Noriko of Japan, Sunil of India, and Rana of Turkey. She not only drinks the tea found in those countries, but she even helps to brew the drink and has an adventure in friendship in each place. Although the queen communicates her disdain for such activities to James, and James dutifully informs each child, she eventually consents to snuggle Noriko's kittens, dribble Sunil's soccer ball, and dance with Rana. At the end, the queen invites the children to her garden and prepares the tea herself. The charm of this picture book is to be found in its repetitive language. Each voyage is told in almost the same wording, but in each sequence, the queen does a little more to make the tea, until she is quite self-sufficient and capable of enjoying human relationships. The amusing colored-pencil illustrations show the queen as she changes from her buttoned-up personality with proper hairdo created by her maids to a free spirit who does her own haphazard coiffure. Droll entertainment that calls out for an international tea party."--Kirkus Reviews


"An imperious monarch embarks on a quest in this wry story from the team behind Infinity and Me. 'I must find the perfect cup of tea!' the queen barks at her butler, James. 'Stop slouching and get me my coat!' Aloft in a hot-air balloon, she orders James to stop in verdant, tea-growing regions, encountering children who invite the royal to do things queens don't ordinarily do, then share tea with her. In Japan, she meets Noriko and snuggles a cat ('That was rather strenuous'). In India, where tea is prepared with ginger and star anise, Sunil invites her to play soccer. 'Her Majesty does not dribble, ' James informs the boy. 'Well then, ' Sunil responds, 'it's time she tried.' In Turkey, she meets Rana, who dances. Swiatkowska's delicious, old-world pastels render each character a distinct individual; the Queen has peculiar flyaway hair, and Sunil's missing a front tooth. The details give Hosford's round-the-world tale offbeat charm, and readers will smile as they watch the Queen shed her haughtiness and embrace her own capabilities."--Publishers Weekly