Tuesday, November 3, 2009

children's book review: Maybelle Goes to Tea by Katie Speck


Welcome to day two of 2008 Cybils Easy Readers Week at nomadreader! Yesterday, I reviews I Will Surprise My Friend! by Mo Willems.

Maybelle Goes to Tea is the story of Maybelle, a cockroach so feminine and allegedly cute she wears a pink bow and pearls; Henry the flea, who lives with Maybelle at the Peabody's house; and Maurice the fly who sometimes meanders inside. The Peabodys, of course, do not know these critters live in their house. At the first sight of them, bug bombs and exterminators appear. In this installment, Mrs. Peabody is hosting a lady's tea. Maybelle cannot follow her rules, "when it's light, stay out of sight; if you're spied, better hide; and never meet with human feet," with Mrs. Peabody baking chocolate surprise cookies.

I like the idea behind the story. It could be comforting to kids to have a cute face put on household pests. After living in the South for years, I believe cleanliness does not equal buglessness, and it is inevitable for children to come across the pests. I don't understand why Maybelle needs a pink ribbon and pearls to be a girl, but I can overlook it. The big problem for me as an adult reader of this book is the way Speck dances between reality and fantasy. The reality of bugs in homes is offset with the fantasy of a roach, fly and flea as friends. The reality of the cat chasing these critters is set off with the fantasy of human antics. Maybelle Goes to Tea is part allegory, part fun and part serious. For me, it's not enough of any of those to be great. That being said, it's a fine, entertaining read for early readers. In many ways, it reminded me of the crazy antics of Amelia Bedelia, whose antics I loved to read about when I was a child. If you like Maybelle Goes to Tea, then be sure to check out Katie Speck's first Maybelle book, Maybelle in the Soup.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Pages: 60
Publication date: 2008
Source: my local public library 

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