Tea Cakes for Tosh

Overview

A young boy helps his beloved grandmother remember an important family story

Tosh loves listening to Grandma Honey tell family stories. His favorite is about the special tea cakes that smell like vanilla and sunshine. They were great-great-great-great-grandma Ida's specialty when she was a cook in the big house of a plantation. Unlike Tosh, the slave children weren't allowed to have any of the treats, though Grandma Ida always found a way to ...

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Overview

A young boy helps his beloved grandmother remember an important family story

Tosh loves listening to Grandma Honey tell family stories. His favorite is about the special tea cakes that smell like vanilla and sunshine. They were great-great-great-great-grandma Ida's specialty when she was a cook in the big house of a plantation. Unlike Tosh, the slave children weren't allowed to have any of the treats, though Grandma Ida always found a way to put the sugary sweetness into their hands anyway. It was a promise and taste of freedom to come.

Tosh knows this is an important story and he takes care to remember every word. And when grandma Honey begins to forget, he can return the gift of tea cakes and stories. A touching family tale, Tea Cakes for Tosh celebrates the important bond between grandchild and grandparent and the stories that make a family strong.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When family recipes are passed down from one generation to the next, stories often accompany them; so it is with the tea cakes that Tosh's grandmother, Honey, bakes for him. Lewis's milky watercolors shift from color to sepia as Honey shares the story of Tosh's "great-great-great-great-grandma Ida," an expert cook who would secret away a couple of her famous tea cakes to give to her children and other young slaves. Back in the present, however, Honey's memory is becoming spotty, and Tosh organizes a role reversal of sorts, baking tea cakes for Honey and telling her Ida's story. "In a blink, Tosh's words carried his grandma from her seat to the plantation, a place neither had been but their hearts knew well," writes Lyons (Ellen's Broom). Caldecott Honoree Lewis's (Coming on Home Soon) watercolors glow with intergenerational tenderness and ?familial pride; recipe cards showcase the items needed to make tea cakes (a recipe is also included), underscoring the idea that a few simple ingredients can create not just a treat but, as Honey puts it, "a promise of days to come." Ages 5–8. Agent: Dwyer & O'Grady. (Dec.)
Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
A lovely book for any youngster, whether your family is honoring the generosity of Christmas, the mitzvahs of Hanukkah or the Kwanzaa principles of umoja (unity) and kuumba (creativity). Tosh loves helping his grandmother, Honey, to make the cookies baked by his ancestor, Ida. An enslaved cook on a plantation, Ida would sneak some of these tea cakes to the young slaves, giving them a "taste of sweet freedom," according to Honey's stories. When Honey starts becoming forgetful, Tosh becomes the one to make the cookies and to tell his beloved grandmother the tea-cake family story she first shared with him. Soft-toned watercolors by Caldecott Honoree E. B. Lewis evoke the sense of love and generational connection at the heart of this tender tale by Kelly Starling Lyons. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Tosh and his grandmother Honey share a special bond, cemented by a story that she has been telling him his whole life. It begins: "Long ago, before you and I were born, our people were enslaved." She follows with the story of a plantation cook who sneaked tea cakes out of the master's house in order to give a taste of sweet freedom to her grandchildren. When Honey shows signs of old age and forgetfulness, Tosh himself bakes the tea cakes to share with her, ensuring that the tradition will survive. Lyons does a wonderful job of showing how cross-generational relationships teach us to respect the past and plan for the future. Lewis's watercolor paintings are miraculously realistic, evoking the characters' relationship and spirit and depicting long-ago plantation life in gray and white to emphasize the shift in time.—Lisa Egly Lehmuller, St. Patrick's Catholic School, Charlotte, NC
Kirkus Reviews
Detailed watercolor art pairs precisely with earnest, delicate prose to create a gentle yet substantive picture book. Lyons delivers a sweet tale of a boy and his grandma, Honey, that has an unexpected twist. Little Tosh delights in his grandmother's stories about how she learned to make her delicious tea cakes. Heaping scoops of family history along with each spoon of sugar or measured cup of flour, Tosh's grandmother spices her tales with more than cinnamon--she laces the batter with pride in her heritage and her past. Sharing her cooking ritual with her grandson is a way to ensure this legacy has a future. Tosh eats it up--both Honey's wisdom and her treats. When, little by little, Honey's memory gets stuck in odd places, Tosh decides to put his memory to work. Caldecott Honoree Lewis (Coming on Home Soon, 2004) delivers realistic, evocative paintings that place readers right in Honey's kitchen. Shifting from full-color paintings to monochrome grays or blues for her reminiscences, Lewis sharpens and softens our focus just as memories go bright then fade. A charmer; all that's missing are the hugs. (recipe) (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399252136
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/6/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 245,508
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 780L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Kelly Starling Lyons lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis lives in Folsom, New Jersey.

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