Phoebe Dupree Is Coming to Tea!

Candlewick. Jun. 2021. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781536204834.
K-Gr 2–The book opens with a written invitation from the narrator Abby to Phoebe, inviting her to tea. Abby, with pale skin and a ginger bun, is all but ecstatic that Phoebe, Black with a halo of natural hair, is to be her guest. There is a polka dot teapot and there are matching plates, and everything must be perfect. “Have you met Phoebe? Phoebe’s as perfect as perfect can be. Phoebe is speedy. Phoebe is smart. She’s equally brilliant at science and art.” The pressure! The dog gets a bath and instructions in how to behave, and a doll and two bears are enlisted as extra guests. Abby wants Phoebe to love tea so much that she’ll want to come again. Budding friendship has never been so earnestly portrayed in this heartwarming look at the truth behind hospitality: We share so we can show people how much we like being in their company. The illustrations of all the preparations roll out with lockstep pacing and mounting excitement, but then there is one clumsy misstep and subsequent chaos. Phoebe and Abby’s friendship is cemented by dented cupcakes, frosting everywhere, and the promise of more tea parties to come.
VERDICT With an ice cream-colored palette and an energetic drawing style that conveys the entire spectrum between worry and absolute glee, this is a generous, SEL-laced glimpse of how all the best friendships get their start.

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