3 out of 4 stars
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Once upon a time, the question was asked: "What do you get the 89-year-old queen who has everything?" Her family home for her birthday, of course! And that's just what Princess Dawnellen sets out to get for her mother, Queen Bettyruth, in Charles Lunsford's book, Tea With the Queen.
This adorable book begins with the queen bemoaning her upcoming 90th birthday, not because of her age but because her sons won't be there to help her celebrate. Her very caring daughter, Princess Dawnellen, decides to make it happen and give her mother a party to end all parties, but all of the princesses' brothers are spread out in the region! Can the princess make it happen? Will everyone be home for the party?
Based somewhat on a true story (the author's sister asked their mother what she wanted for her birthday, and she answered, "A tea party!"), I thought this was a really cute tale about a daughter trying to do right by her elderly mother who has given her everything all of her life. The beginning half dragged a little bit, but once the decorating for the party began, things kicked into high gear. I especially liked the arrival of different people, with each arrival done in various humorous ways. My only [minor] quibble was that there was barely any attention given to the problem at-hand. We went from the queen wishing to see her sons to preparations being made for a party. I would liked to have read about some minor conflicts in the princess' quest to bring her brothers home. There was also a subplot with the queen and her husband, King Bernard, who had suffered from a number of ailments and could no longer talk. I admit that a few scenes had me a bit teary-eyed, moved by the depth of their love for each other.
One of the most important parts of books for children are the illustrations, and I think they were well-done in this case. I believe that the author noted on Amazon that he used clip-art. The pictures were therefore simple but vivid and colorful, giving even more life to the characters therein. My only issue with the pictures was that Princess Dawnellen and her siblings looked a little young to be in their 70s or even 60s; while I'm guessing about their ages, I don't think I can be too far off since the queen's children all had grandchildren of their own. Even if they're young grandparents, their pictures made them look to be no older than their early 30s, if that. The queen, on the other hand, did look to be elderly, though she could have done with a few more wrinkles.
I thought that the theme of family love was very well portrayed, and it was fun meeting everyone in the extended family. Even so, I will make one minor note. One of the couples included in the book is homosexual, which I had no problem with. The thing that did give me pause, however, was that one half of the couple looked at the other's behind and smiled. Due to the language in general, I think this book is aimed for slightly older children (maybe 10 and up), but that aside was a little too much even for me, and I'm quite a bit older than 10! While I realize that this book started off as a gift to the author's mother, thereby making that scene "no biggie", it's now on Amazon and posted as a children's book, so I think that one sentence should be edited out.
Insofar as the editing in general, I don't think that this book was professionally edited. It's only 56 pages long, and I managed to find well over the ten grammatical errors we need to note, with the first ten being found in the first 6 pages. Most of the mishaps were punctuation missteps, but there were also a few instances of incorrect word usage and one time that "they're" was used when it should have been "their". I strongly urge the author to have this book edited now that it's being seen outside of the family because it has important themes that shouldn't be lessened by bad grammar.
Due to the typographical issues, it is with a heavy heart that I give Tea With the Queen 3 out of 4 stars; the minor issues I mentioned don't warrant a lower drop in the rating. I also recommend this book to older children or tweens as well as adults who like children's books based on family and love. Fans of fairy tales may also want to give this tome a try.
And with that, MsTri was done with her review, and they all lived happily ever after.
Tea With the Queen
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