A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Tea Rex opens and closes with illustrations of handwritten notes, modeling invitations and thank-you notes, and writing in general. There's also specific info about the elements needed for a tea party. And attention, teachers: The text can serve as a model for writing a how-to book.
Since the kids never seem too upset by the dinosaur and his devastation, there's an implicit message of acceptance: Some friends are just more clumsy and inadvertently destructive than others. The hosts persevere rather than despair.
Positive Role Models
Tea Rex subtly breaks down gender expectations, with both a boy and a girl attending a tea party and hosting a dinosaur. And both maintain their manners under difficult circumstances.
Violence & Scariness
Despite the voracious T. Rex who almost eats the teddy bear, nothing's really scary. Though the dino has teeth, they're rounded rather than sharp, and the art signals friendship and fun.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that award-winning picture book illustrator Molly Idle (Caldecott Honor Book Flora and the Pink Flamingo) has created another winner with Tea Rex, in which a voracious dinosaur's invited to a children's tea part and wreaks havoc -- but no one gets hurt. T. Rex almost eats a teddy bear, but it's not really scary. The text is written as a dry, prescriptive how-to: "When everyone is settled, you may serve refreshments." But in the illustrations, chaos reigns -- food flies, and so do the kids -- making for a really funny contrast. With the unusual pairing of a tea party and a dinosaur, Tea Rex breaks down gender expectations and can appeal to both boys and girls. Young readers can embrace their love of a carefully set table and feed their fixation with dinosaurs.
Is It Any Good?
There's lots of humor here in this excellent marriage of text and art. The text is dry and droll, with advice on the proper way to conduct a tea party, stopping just short of advising the reader to crook a pinky while raising a china tea cup. But the art tells a very different story, one in which the guest, a T. Rex, smashes the china, pours the tea into a flowered picture hat, and roars when it's his turn to contribute small talk.
This T. Rex isn't malevolent, just exuberant and much too large for a proper tea party, and kids will love the joke. Not merely a one-joke story, TEA REX will stand up to multiple readings as kids scan the art for more humorous detail.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.