Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Tea Cakes for Tosh" by Kelly Starling Lyons and E.B. Lewis

Black History Month seems like a fine time to share a terrific new children's book I came across recently, "Tea Cakes for Tosh" by Kelly Starling Lyons and E.B. Lewis. I've been meaning to do some research about why tea cakes are called tea cakes, and so this book was a must-read. I had always assumed tea cakes were a specialty of the South, but it wasn't until a few years back that I began to read about their associations with black culture.

In "Tea Cakes for Tosh," Lyons shares a sweet and simple tale about "Grandma Honey," a grandmother who shares tea cakes and their heritage with her grandson Tosh. She tells him how his great-great-great-great-grandmother Ida was enslaved, and Grandma Ida made the best tea cakes around. Ida was not supposed to share these cookies with her children, but some days she managed to slip a few in her pocket "to give the children a taste of sweet freedom." As the story continues, we find it's not just a story about black heritage, it's also a story about aging grandparents, and how one little boy learns to carry on that tea cake tradition thanks to time spent with his grandmother.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that E.B. Lewis' watercolor illustrations are, well, exquisite. Most children's books I've read have that cutesy, cookie-cutter look to the characters, but this book's illustrations capture so well the characters in this story. I love how you can even see the texture of the watercolor paper in the book's illustrations, and I actually found myself pausing to linger over the illustrations of Honey, from her black curls and wrinkled hands to the bib-style apron she wore, just like the ones once worn by my own late grandmother. I don't often get inspired to Google the illustrator behind a book, but I did this one. His art combined with Lyons' compelling story made this just a truly heartwarming read.

And yes, Grandma Honey's tea cake recipe is included at the end of the book!


  1. Great book review Angela, I'll see if it's available for my ereader, although I've not yet had a book on it with illustrations. A couple of years ago I saw a presentation on an old church north of us that was part of the black underground railway.

  2. Dear Angela,
    Interesting info. Will look it up on Amazon to see what ages it is appropriate for.
    I want to thank you for my towel and hot mitt. We were away for a few days and it was here when I arrived back. Many thanks!
    xo Ruthie

  3. Sounds like a wonderful book!

  4. Sounds like a lovely book. I'll be on the lookout for a copy to read to my grandkids. Thanks for the review.

  5. Wonderful, informative book review!
    ~ Phyllis

  6. What a great book! That's going on the list! Thanks for being the hunter and purveyor of great books!

  7. What a thoughtful post, Angela.

    You have such a way with words, ma'am - everything you write is so compelling!

    Thank you for the recommendation!

  8. This is a very informative book. Thank you for introducing us to it.

  9. With all these you can have access to all the features
    of Xbox Live. The best time to visit the Microsoft
    website is when there happens to be an event that touches on gaming such as the launch of an entirely new game.
    These occasions aren't common and only occur when sponsored by some other company.

    Here is my web site; msp codes

  10. I just know I would love reading this book and seeing the illustrations. Thanks for sharing a little of the story.

  11. What a good book.... lots to learn from this one.


Thanks so much for taking time to leave a comment! It makes my day to hear from readers!