Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tea For You and Tea For Me

January is, among other things, Tea Month. Well, that makes sense. Of course, many people drink tea on a daily basis, but there's nothing like a good hot cup of a tea on a cold day (or coffee, if that's your choice, but that's another post). Rituals surround tea. Little girls play "dress up" and have pretend tea parties. And with our Winnie the Pooh tea party coming up at our Marshall and Warrenton branches, tea is definitely on my mind.

Baltimore author Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard's childhood experiences at the Inner Harbor are the basis for her picture book, Aunt Flossie's Hats (and Crab Cakes Later). Sarah and Susan visit their Great-Great-Great Flossie every Sunday. Aunt Flossie's house is just like the house you would expect a woman who collect hats and enjoys having two lively little girls over for tea every week to have: "Books and pictures and lamps and pillows...plates and trays and old dried flowers...and boxes and boxes and boxes of HATS!"

After tea and cookies are consumed, the girls are allowed to play with Aunt Flossie's hats. Each one of the hats has a history. Aunt Flossie's Sunday hat reminds her of the time the wind whipped it from her head and landed it in the water. Eventually, a friendly and smart dog rescued the soggy hat; no longer hatless, young Flossie and her family set off for crab cakes (the story inspires Aunt Flossie to tell the girls to phone their parents for their own crab cake outing). The last illustration shows the family enjoying crab cakes at a restaurant. While the girls agree that nothing is as good as a crab cake, "...crab cakes taste best after stories...stories about Aunt Flossie's hats!"

This is a great and gentle story about intergenerational relationships and memories. There is also the Baltimore locale that adds to the flavor.

If you want to read more books by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard, I'd recommend Flower Girl Butterflies.

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