- The Crankypants Tea Party by Barbara Bottner
Bottner, Barbara The Crankypants Tea Party; illus. by Ale Barba. Dlouhy/Atheneum, 2020 [40p] Trade ed. ISBN 9781481459006 $17.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9781481459013 $10.99 Reviewed from galleys Ad 4-7 yrs
Clarissa plans a tea party with her stuffies, but her toys are bitter about being mistreated: Rabbit is angry about being left outside; Pig has a tear from roughhousing; and Bear has been neglected all week. The mutinous stuffed animals refuse to participate in Clarissa's tea party, but eventually Clarissa gives each an explanation ("I didn't forget Bear. I was saving him for his birthday next week"), and the animals come around, thank her for the things she's done for them, and have their party. With its playscript-style dialogue format, this gives ample opportunity for readersaloud to ham up different voices. Some of the art clashes with the text, however, making the dialogue confusing, particularly when the illustration excludes the lines' speaker. The style successfully invokes the playfulness of children's doodles, with squiggly lines in watercolor against negative, white space. Though the animals rebel against Clarissa, some of them have valid complaints that she brushes off without apology—still, some kids may think twice about leaving their toys in the line of danger.