Saturday, 10 December 2011

Celeste, Nick and the Magical Tea Party

Celeste, Nick and the Magical Tea Party by Miss Dinkles, illustrated by Adam Oehlers (
HC RRP $22.45 online
ISBN 9781921596803
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Discovering the world of Celeste and Nick is like rediscovering ancient wisdoms about the connectedness of all life.Celeste, unlike her carefree sister Renee, is anxious about leaving her home with the pond in the yard and moving to a big city. Settled in the new house, Celeste doesn’t feel safe outside. She shares tea parties with imaginary friends in her room and is unhappy until she finds an old radio in the shed. Listening to music evaporates her darkness.

The first day of school is traumatic. She is teased, has her hair pulled and eats her lunch alone. At night she cries, feeling lonely and alone. She puts on the radio and is transported from her room to a place of grassy fields, soft clouds and blue skies. Colour and light fills her life; colours of the sun, grass, water and sky.

Nick sits next to Celeste at lunch the following day. He tells her of his loneliness when he started at school. Later, Celeste is transported to that other place when she closes her eyes and dances to the music. Further miracles of nature await her. She waters the plant from her previous visit and watches it grow. Streams and the colour blue enter her life.

This pattern continues. Music is the prelude to Celeste’s visits to the other world. Nick joins her in her excursions to that other place. More things grow. Animals, plants and colour join the children. With dance and closed eyes, they commune with nature and the environment. Celeste wants to share this new-found knowledge with everyone. They decide to throw a tea party in the park and show the other children how easy it is to connect with music and nature, simply by closing your eyes.

This beautiful book carries strong messages. It teaches children about the unity of all living things. Its unique fine line illustrative style uses colours of the earth, trees and natural surroundings. Symbolism is used to unite and present the ideas. Its superb front cover shows Celeste and Nick through a brown hollow of a tree, walking through rippling grass toward a giant sun in the horizon. The back cover reflects the tools of Celeste’s loneliness (the tea set) being swept away with the dark clouds over a crescent moon in a sky flickering with stars. The end pages are the brilliant yellow of the sun. Delightful!

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