Séance Tea Party – written and illustrated by Reimena Yee

   Séance Tea Party – written and illustrated by Reimena Yee, Random House Graphic, 9780593125328, 2020 

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

Format: Hardcover Graphic novel

What did you like about the book?  Twelve-year-old Lora watches as one by one, her friends start aging out of the make-believe games they enjoyed as kids. She still loves make-believe and isn’t ready for the world of memes, celebrity gossip and cellphones. A séance tea party summons the ghost of Alexa, who’s the same age as Lora and just as lonely. Alexa is a friendly spirit and the story is bittersweet as she befriends Lora until she’s ready to move on to being a teen. Yee is a talented artist and the visual sophistication of the book is absorbing. She uses Photoshop, but her pictures have a hand-drawn look and charm. I loved the dense and creative panel arrangements that weave through the story. She alternates effortlessly between framed and unframed drawings, from small, sequential panels to large full-page spreads, from pages full of dialogue bubbles to wordless pages that emphasize deep thought and revelation. And yet, I never had any problem following the storyline. I appreciated the short but interesting how-to section that closes out the book, which focused on the steps and process of writing and drawing Tea Party. Lee is Malaysian and Lora cues as Asian while her best friend Bobby is Black and LGBTQ. Alexa is White.

Anything you didn’t like about it? The dialogue was sometimes too dense, with Lee relying on the text instead of trusting her strong illustration. 

To whom would you recommend this book?  Despite the ghost, this is not a scary story and I would recommend it for readers aged 10 and up. I recently read Sheets (2018) by Brenna Thummler and found that more sophisticated and rich as a text, but this may appeal to the same audience.

Who should buy this book? Middle schools and public libraries. 

Where would you shelve it? Graphic novels

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: April 1, 2021

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