Teacup by Rebecca Young

cover image

Ill. by Matt Ottley. Scholastic, 2015. ISBN 9781743623848
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Journeys, Friendship, Sea, Refugees. One day the boy sets out in his boat. He must leave and takes a teacup of soil with him to remind him of home. He sails across the ocean, through storms and calm seas, times when it is blackly dark, or when the sky is full of cloud. He sees animals in the water below him. The albatross reminds him of flying a kite, the whales' songs remind him of his mother calling him for tea. He is searching for land. During his voyage his teacup of soil sprouts an apple tree which gives him food, shade, rest and a vantage point. Finally he finds land and is able to plant his tree, and wait for the girl to arrive with her eggcup and pear tree.
The illustrations for this story are superb, Ottley's depiction of the sea in all of its moods, scary and charming at the same time. The stormy days feel cold and threatening, the calmer days give solace and comfort. Most of the time the child in the boat feels safe as will the readers of this story, wanting to know why he is there and where he is going. All sorts of ideas will spring to mind, especially with Ottley's addition of things in the background of the pages: a range of animals and toys, both fanciful and real, the huge tree with a boat stuck in its branches, the girl finding her way to the island as well. Each image suggests answers to the puzzling story and readers will love to muse on what is happening.
A story of new beginnings, of hope for the future, of friendship, of adversity will appeal to those adventurous children ready to broaden their imaginations and think about ideas.
Fran Knight