The Tea Dragon Society – Katie O’Neill

 The Tea Dragon Society – Katie O’Neill, Oni Press, 9781620107379, c2017, 2020 

Format: PDF Review Copy

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Fantasy/Graphic Novel

 What did you like about the book? This story is an interesting mix of fantasy, friendship, lessons learned, and making discoveries about yourself. The story centers around four fantastical and interesting characters — Greta who is a goblin, Minette and Hesekiel who are part goat and part human, and Erik who is a strong and loyal warrior. They have all come together because of a small group of tea dragons. Tea dragons are unique creatures and their care and use is becoming a lost art. They are small and have small antlers on the top of their head. These antlers actually produce leaves which can be harvested to make the most delicious tea. Tea dragons also make wonderful companions and are very loyal to those who take care of them. Each has come together seeking something different in life. Greta is an expert blacksmith despite her young age. She can make beautiful pieces, but does not always see the value if people do not buy her items. Minette had the gift to see into the future, but the demands on her led her to lose this gift and her memory as well. This has left her very alone and afraid. Hesekiel and Erik came together to fight evil — Hesekiel with his spells and Erik with his strength. A tragic accident leaves Erik disabled and in the loving care of Hesekiel. What they all have in common is their desire to help the tea dragons and to form lasting memories and friendship with each other.

There are a lot of wonderful messages in this story about friendship, love, compassion, and believing in yourself and what is important in life. Children will find their stories uplifting and inspirational. I love the graphics in this book. There are certain illustrations that are emphasized (a clenched fist, teardrop falling on a table, blood on the ground) that show strong emotions in the story. As with any graphic novel, it is important to “read” the pictures because so much of the story is contained in them as well.

There is a good representation of diversity in the story with different skin tones, a disabled character and a relationship between two male characters. I always find this a little tricky because when two characters express their love (in this case Erik and Hesekiel) it can mean many different things–not necessarily an LGBTQ+ relationship. Either way, I feel it sends a positive message to young children.

Anything you did not like about the book. There were a few parts where the story seemed to jump to something else a little too quickly, but it did not really take away from my enjoyment of the story.

To whom would you recommend this book? This book is perfect for children between the ages and six and nine years old, especially if they are a child who loves fantasy stories and whimsical creatures.

Who should buy this book?  Public and elementary school libraries, anyone who works with children between the ages of six and nine years old.

Where would you shelve it? Graphic Novels

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, if you need something like this to add to your graphic novel collection.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: June 29, 2020

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