Maybelle Goes to Tea

Maybelle Goes to Tea

5.0 2
by Katie Speck, Paul Ratz de Tagyos

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Maybelle doesn't go looking for adventures, but they seem to find her anyway. She just can't be content eating crumbs in the dark like a cockroach should. No, Maybelle wants to taste the delicious surprise in Mrs. Peabody's famous Chocolate Surprise Cookies.

So when Mrs. Peabody holds a Ladies' Spring Tea, Maybelle follows the advice of her new fly friend,


Maybelle doesn't go looking for adventures, but they seem to find her anyway. She just can't be content eating crumbs in the dark like a cockroach should. No, Maybelle wants to taste the delicious surprise in Mrs. Peabody's famous Chocolate Surprise Cookies.

So when Mrs. Peabody holds a Ladies' Spring Tea, Maybelle follows the advice of her new fly friend, Maurice. She goes for it—and tumbles into a tasty but terrifying adventure in this delightful sequel to Maybelle in the Soup.

Maybelle Goes to Tea is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Renee Farrah
Maybelle the cockroach, and Henry the flea, make a new friend just in time for Mrs. Peabody's Ladies' Spring Tea. He is Maurice the fly, and he is unfamiliar with the very particular way a bug is to behave in the Peabody household. Maybelle's cockroach rules are very clear: "when it's light, stay out of sight; if you're spied, better hide; and never meet with human feet." Instead of the quiet and out-of-sight approach, Maurice's mantra is the ever exhilarating, "go for it!" Maybelle tries to follow Maurice's technique after eyeing all the goodies Mrs. Peabody is serving her tea guests that Maurice is successfully getting to try. However, she gets more excitement and trouble than she bargained for when she is discovered with more than her hand in the cookie jar. A fun and entertaining read that plays on both our safe and adventurous sides, and that gently reminds us to be true to ourselves and not be pressured to do as our friends do. Reviewer: Renee Farrah
School Library Journal

Gr 2-4

Living at the Peabody home, sprightly Maybelle, a cockroach, abides by three rules: "When it's light, stay out of sight; if you're spied, better hide; and never meet with human feet." However, these rules go right out the window once she becomes aware of the Chocolate Surprise Cookies to be served at Mrs. Peabody's tea party. Easy-reader graduates will delight in Maybelle's antics and enjoy her housefly pal, Maurice, and his giggle-worthy shenanigans. Maybelle finds herself smack dab in the middle of a big adventure when she tumbles into a tasty treat. With humorous illustrations on nearly every spread, this is a sweet offering.-Andrea Tarr, Corona Public Library, CA

Kirkus Reviews
Maybelle the Cockroach and Henry the Flea are still alive and bugging the very perfect Peabodys. The rule of their house might be "ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NO BUGS," but rules are made to be broken. Whether it's a hidden cache of raspberry jam or a pile of sandwiches for the Ladies' Spring Tea, Maybelle's life is full of surprises. One is the arrival of Maurice, one Noticeable and Unwelcome fly who puts all the insects in danger of an Extermination Event but who also adds some excitement to the household. While Maybelle tries to follow The Rules that keep a cockroach safe, Maurice's watchword is "Go for it!" When Maybelle decides to do so, she goes through one terrifying and hilarious adventure after another. Ratz de Taygos's detailed, kinetic illustrations dot most pages, making the text accessible to new readers. Maybelle's oversized hair bow and Maurice's over-the-top antics, along with varied perspectives, keep readers at the heart of the adventure. Short sentences, laugh-out-loud situations and likable characters make this second series entry a winner. (Fiction. 6-9)
From the Publisher

“Short sentences, laugh-out-loud situations, and likable characters make this second series entry a winner.” —Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
Maybelle Series
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.60(d)
550L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Maybelle Goes to Tea

By Katie Speck, Paul Rátz de Tagyos


Copyright © 2008 Katie Speck
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-11463-1


Red Hot!

Myrtle and Herbert Peabody were quite sure there were ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NO BUGS in their house at Number 10 Grand Street. That's because Maybelle the Cockroach behaved herself. She obeyed all three of The Rules : When it's light, stay out of sight; if you're spied, better hide; and never meet with human feet.

But there are Cockroach Cautions, too. One night Maybelle ignored a very important one: Test before you taste. She found a tiny red spill on the kitchen floor, and she loved food so much and got so excited that she forgot about the cautions altogether. Nobody's perfect.

"Raspberry jam!" she said to herself. "My favorite thing, after chocolate."

She didn't use her antennae to sniff the spill, and she didn't take a weensy taste. She didn't test at all. She dove right in, face first.

She got an unpleasant surprise. It was not raspberry jam. It was red-hot pepper sauce. It was so hot that she jigged and danced around the floor. She felt as if she'd eaten a fire ant.


Maybelle dashed for the sink and hung upside down off the end of the faucet. She needed a drop of water to cool her mouth parts. But she waited ... and waited ... and waited. The faucet didn't leak. Everything was JUST SO at Number 10 Grand Street.

"What are you doing, kiddo?" Henry the Flea said when he hopped by for a visit.

"I'm waiting," Maybelle grumbled. "I'm waiting for this faucet to leak. I'm waiting for my mouth to stop burning. I'm waiting for something delicious."

"I'm waiting for a golden retriever," Henry said. "But I've got a cat. You've got crumbs and spills. We make the best of what we have, remember?"

Maybelle did remember. And she knew that adventures happen to a cockroach who breaks The Rules. She would try to be content eating crumbs and spills in the dark, like any other cockroach. She didn't want an adventure.

But adventure was about to come along anyway. Because whether a cockroach is behaving herself or she isn't, life is full of surprises.


Belly Up

The next morning, Maybelle and Henry watched from Maybelle's home under the refrigerator as the Peabodys hurried out the kitchen door. They were off to buy goodies for Mrs. Peabody's Ladies' Spring Tea. It was an Extra Special occasion. Only the Best People were invited.

But when the Peabodys went out, someone zoomed in without an invitation.

"BRZZZT! Maurice here!" said a very large fly. "Coming in."

As soon as he was in, Maurice began trying to get out. "BRZZZT! Going out."

He wasn't going out. The Peabodys were gone, the door was closed, and a big, noisy fly was trapped in the kitchen.

"Going out! Going out!" Maurice said, throwing himself against the door.

"Going out!" he said, crashing into the wall.

"This is going to be trouble," Henry said to Maybelle.

"What will we do?" Maybelle said to Henry.

"BRZZZZZT! Going out!" Maurice cried. And he smacked up against the windowpane so hard that he knocked himself insensible.

Maurice lay on the windowsill with his legs in the air for what seemed a very long time. Even belly-up, he was Noticeable. And Unwelcome. And likely to cause an Extermination Event at Number 10 Grand Street.

"Come on, Maybelle. We've got to hide him before the Peabodys see him and call the Bug Man," Henry said.

"I'm not going out there. What if Ramona the Cat catches me?"

"Don't worry. Ramona is busy bird-watching in an upstairs window."

Maybelle was worried, but she didn't want a visit from the Bug Man. So the two friends ventured out into the kitchen.

When it's light, stay out of sight! The day had hardly begun, and Maybelle had already broken The First Cockroach Rule.


Carry On

With Henry bouncing along beside her, Maybelle scuttled across the floor and up the wall to the windowsill where Maurice lay.

Maybelle didn't like the look of him. He had bug eyes, hairy legs, and his feet smelled like sour milk. Still, there was nothing to do but get him on her back and carry him home.

Maybelle made herself as flat as she could. "Get under him and push, Henry."

Henry hopped, and panted, and shoved against the big fly. Finally, with a desperate heave, he managed to load Maurice onto Maybelle's back. "To the refrigerator!" he cried.

But before Maybelle had gotten even halfway there, the Peabodys returned. Luckily, they could hardly see over their bulging grocery bags.

"Even Mildred Snodgrass is coming to my Ladies' Spring Tea," Mrs. Peabody said as she struggled into the kitchen. "It will be the social event of the year, Herbert. It must be Extra Special."

"I'm sure it will be perfection, Myrtle," Herbert Peabody said.

Maybelle scrambled frantically among human feet, darting this way and that. She had to get home as fast as possible. The Peabodys would see her when they put their bags down. If they saw her, the Bug Man would come. If they stepped on her ...

"Hurry!" Henry shouted.

Maybelle hurried so fast that Maurice nearly slid off her back. But she made it to the refrigerator, stuffed him into the crack that was her front door, and followed him in.

"There!" she said. "We'll tell Maurice how things are done around here when he wakes up."

"If you say so, kiddo." Henry sounded doubtful.


Go for It!

Maybelle and Henry watched Mrs. Peabody from Maybelle's door. First she took a teapot with matching cups and saucers from the cupboard. Then she piled platters high with tea cakes, biscuits, and sandwiches with the crusts cut off. And just before she went upstairs to dress for the party, she arranged Chocolate Surprise Cookies on her best plate.

"I wonder what the surprise is, Henry. Don't you?"

"Maybe there'll be crumbs on the floor tonight and you can find out."

"I want to taste the surprise while it's still in the cookie," Maybelle said.

"We're making the best of what we have. Remember, kiddo?" Maybelle remembered. And she wasn't happy about it.

While the two friends talked, Maurice recovered from his crash. He tested his wings. "BZZZRT! Any garbage in here?"

"Certainly not! This is Number 10 Grand Street. Everything here is JUST SO," Maybelle said.

"Yeah, right, right. So what do you have to eat, huh?" Maurice rubbed his legs together vigorously. "Any rotten eggs? Moldy cheese? How about some spoiled meat? BZRRRT!" He rubbed his legs faster and faster.

Before Maybelle could answer, he saw the Ladies' Spring Tea spread out on the kitchen counter. Everything was arranged on the plates JUST SO.

"Never mind, Missy. Gonna get me some goodies!"

"You can't do that!" Maybelle cried. "There are Rules here. If we don't obey them, the Bug Man comes."

"BRZZZT! I've got my own Rule, Missy," Maurice said. "Go for it!"

And he did.


Cockroach Sandwich

"I don't like Maurice," Maybelle said to Henry. "He's very irritating. He's noisy. He rubs his hairy legs together. His feet smell. And he calls me Missy."

"Don't be too hard on him, Maybelle," Henry said. "You never know. Sometimes when you think you couldn't like someone at all, they surprise you."

Maybelle peeked out to see what Maurice was up to. What she didn't like the most about him was that he was getting to eat all the delicious treats she wanted. He was buzzing and rubbing and treading all over everything with his smelly feet. When he landed on the Chocolate Surprises, Maybelle had had enough.

"This won't do, Henry! Rules or no Rules, I'm going out there!"

Maybelle didn't know that Ramona was no longer bird-watching upstairs — she was crouched in front of the refrigerator. Maybelle barged out of her cozy little home right under the cat's nose.

Ramona's eyes were wide with excitement. WHAM! She reached out a paw and whacked Maybelle hard on her bottom. WHAM! She whacked her again. It was too late for the terrified cockroach to turn back — the cat blocked her way. So Maybelle bolted forward instead and headed for the counter. Ramona was barely a whisker's length behind her.

"GO! GO!" Henry said.

"BZRRRT!" Maurice stood on the ceiling, watching the chase and rubbing his legs together.

Maybelle jumped on the first plate she came to. She wriggled in between a slice of cucumber and a piece of buttered bread and held her breath.

Ramona swatted at Maybelle's sandwich. "Raaoow!"

"No, Precious!" Mrs. Peabody said, hurrying into the kitchen. "There's nothing in that cucumber sandwich that a kitty would like. It's for the ladies."

Mrs. Peabody put Ramona on the floor, gave her a pat, and took the sandwiches and the other goodies into the parlor.

Maybelle went to her very first Ladies' Spring Tea.



The ladies looked grand. They were powdered and polished and dressed in their best clothes. Mrs. Snodgrass even wore a new hat with decorations piled on top that looked like shiny little fruits — apples and oranges and lemons.

"Why, Myrtle, everything on the tea table is Just So. What lovely treats!" she said.

Maurice agreed. He invited himself to the party and zoomed among the ladies. "BRZZZT!"

Maybelle peeked out of her cucumber sandwich. "Oh, dear," she said to no one in particular.

"Shoo!" Mrs. Peabody cried, flapping her hand at Maurice.

All the ladies joined in, shooing and flapping. Ramona tried to help, too. But Maurice paid them no mind. He was going for it.

Mrs. Peabody's face turned red with embarrassment. She called Mr. Peabody in from the yard. "You must do something, Herbert! Get the fly swatter."

"Let me handle this, ladies," he announced. He began stalking Maurice, fly swatter upraised.

Maurice landed on the biscuits. BAM! Mr. Peabody smashed the biscuits but missed Maurice. Maurice landed on the tea cakes. BAM! Mr. Peabody crushed the tea cakes, but Maurice was already on the cucumber sandwiches.

"Over there!" the ladies urged. Mr. Peabody was excited by the chase. Maurice was everywhere at once. SMACK! SMACK! When he alighted on Mrs. Snodgrass's hat — BAM! — little fruits flew into the air. They hit the floor and bounced and rolled like marbles.

There was a moment of shocked silence. "You've ruined my new hat. I didn't come here to be attacked by filthy insects," Mrs. Snodgrass snapped.

"Anyone could have a fly in the house," Sue Ellen Snerdly said.

Then another of the ladies pointed at a plate. "That's a cockroach!"

Maybelle sat stunned and exposed on what was left of the cucumber sandwiches. She wore a piece of buttered bread on her head.

If you're spied, better hide! Maybelle skittered for cover under the carpet. At the sight of a skittering cockroach, the ladies panicked and fled across the little fruits from Mrs. Snodgrass's hat. The fruits rolled, and the ladies slid and slipped and sprawled and crawled to get out of the house.

Mrs. Snerdly regained her feet at the door, straightened her dress, and smiled. "Thank you for the tea party. It was Extra Special. It isn't so terrible to have a cockroach in the cucumber sandwiches."

Mrs. Peabody began to sob. Her Ladies' Spring Tea was over.


In a Fog

The only things that managed to survive Mr. Peabody's fly swatter were the Chocolate Surprises and the fly. Maurice buzzed around and enjoyed what was left of the party.

Mrs. Peabody wiped her eyes and blew her nose. "I'm feeling faint, Herbert," she announced.

"Put your head down and breathe, dear. Breathe!" Mr. Peabody said.

"My tea party is ruined!" Mrs. Peabody sniffed from between her knees. "Call the Bug Man, Herbert!"

"No need, dear, I'll handle this myself. I'm going to set off a Bug Bomb. We'll wait in the yard. And in a little while there will be absolutely, positively NO BUGS at Number 10 Grand Street."

Mr. Peabody helped Mrs. Peabody outside. He carried Ramona. Mrs. Peabody carried the plate of Chocolate Surprises. "You know I eat when I'm upset, Herbert," she sniffed.

"A little fresh air will do you a world of good, Myrtle."

Mr. Peabody closed all the windows and put a Bug Bomb in the parlor. He pushed the button on the bomb and rushed out into the yard.

One, two, three — the Bug Bomb sent a deadly fog drifting through the house.

Under the carpet, Maybelle's heart raced. "We've got to get out of here, Henry!"

"We can go through Ramona's cat door. But we have to go now," Henry said. The white fog was spreading across the parlor, coming closer and closer. "Follow us, Maurice."

Maurice had difficulty taking directions. "BRZZZZT! Going out." He threw himself against the wall. "Going out!" He threw himself against the door. "Going out, going out!" He threw himself against the window with a great THWACK! Maurice lay belly-up on the windowsill.

"Not again," Maybelle moaned. "Now what?"

But she knew what had to be done. The poisonous fog drifted their way. There was no time to spare. Little Henry grunted and strained and loaded the fly onto Maybelle's back.

Maybelle didn't care for Maurice, but he was a bug. Bugs stick together — even if one of them is very irritating.


Go for It?

Maybelle and Henry shoved Maurice through the cat door and found themselves in Mr. Peabody's yard.

The outside of Number 10 Grand Street was every bit as JUST SO as the inside. Mr. Peabody kept the grass cut to exactly two inches. He clipped all the shrubs into neat balls. And he put a sign on the lawn that said "STAY OFF THE GRASS: ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NO CHILDREN OR DOGS!" Maybelle thought it might be wise to hide. She and Henry left Maurice on the stoop and crawled under the doormat.

From their hiding place, the two friends watched the Peabodys. The humans sat side by side on lawn chairs with the plate of Chocolate Surprises close at hand.

"Mrs. Snodgrass will never forgive us!" Mrs. Peabody said. "I'm very upset, Herbert." She popped a Surprise into her mouth. "I don't know when I've been so upset." She popped another Surprise into her mouth.

Maybelle looked at the plate of Surprises. Surely, Mrs. Peabody couldn't eat any more. There was only one left now. Maybelle had wondered all morning what the surprise was. She might never know. Unless ...

"I'm going to find out what's in that cookie," Maybelle said.

"You can't do that, kiddo. That would be really dangerous. Stay here until it's safe to go back in the house. As for me" — Henry eyed Ramona, who was settling down for a nap in the sun — "I'm going to get a hot lunch." And he bounded off to his cat.

"Everyone else has something good to eat," Maybelle thought out loud. "I've been in danger all day and I have nothing to show for it. Maybe Maurice has the right idea."

So Maybelle took a deep breath, counted "One, two, three," and rushed out from under the doormat. "Go for it!" she cried and made a run at the last cookie.


Foolish Pleasure

The Peabodys were looking in the other direction. They didn't see Maybelle coming. But Ramona did. She woke up and scratched at the flea behind her ear just as Maybelle charged by.

"Uh-oh. Look out, Maybelle!" Henry shouted. His hot lunch leaped up and began the chase.

With Ramona in pursuit, Maybelle ran until she reached the cookie. And with no time to sniff or taste or test, she plunged into the mysterious heart of the last Chocolate Surprise.

Soft, creamy fudge — that's what she found inside. It wasn't especially surprising. But it was so delicious that she forgot Rules and Cautions and humans and cats.


Ramona didn't forget about a certain plump cockroach. BAT! She reached out and batted the cookie. Then she batted it some more. BAT! BAT!

"Oh my, Herbert. Look at silly Ramona!" Myrtle Peabody said. "She wants my cookie. No, naughty kitty, it's for Mommy. Cookies comfort Mommy."

And with that, Mrs. Peabody stuffed the Surprise into her mouth. If she'd bothered to look at it first, she might have noticed that it had legs and a bottom.


Excerpted from Maybelle Goes to Tea by Katie Speck, Paul Rátz de Tagyos. Copyright © 2008 Katie Speck. Excerpted by permission of Macmillan.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

KATIE SPECK grew up in New Orleans and now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with a husband, a daughter, an assortment of pets, and a bug or two.

PAUL RÁTZ DE TAGYOS went to Parsons School of Design quite some time ago. He is the author/illustrator of several books for children. He lives in New Rochelle, New York.

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Maybelle Goes to Tea 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
YvonnePerry More than 1 year ago
I ordered this book on after someone on Twitter suggested I watch a video about the book. After watching the video, I just had to get the book for my granddaughter who lives in South Carolina. They have some huge palmetto bugs there and the 6-year-old shares my dislike of them! I got the book in the mail today. It's a chapter book and perfect for a young, but advanced reader now attending kindergarten (not me-my granddaughter). I read the book and chuckled at the antics of these buggy critters. I especially loved Maurice the fly. "BRZZT! Going in, BRZZT! going out!" has beome my favorite "buzz" phrase around here! I couldn't resist just now when I let my dog in the back door. "BRZZT! coming in?" I asked her. Okay, so you can tell that everything at the Perry house is not JUST SO! My husband is laughing. He's reading the book now. We are easy to entertain--no need for a pompous tea party with ladies wearing fruity hats.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Maybelle's back in this sequel and it's just as much fun as the first book. Plenty of laughs that sneak up on you, well-developed characters with real-life concerns, and illustrations that add another layer of fun. This is one of my favorite chapters books. Where else can you learn to love a cockroach and a flea?