The Tea Party in the Woods - Akiko Miyakoshi
This picturebook was originally published in Japanese, with the title Mori no Oku no Ochakai e in 2010. It has since been translated and is being made available for a North American audience thanks to Kids Can Press.
Kikko sets out after her father with a forgotten pie for Grandma. When she arrives at a strange house in the wintry woods, a peek in the window reveals that the footprints Kikko had been following did not belong to her father at all, but to a bear in a long coat and hat! Alice in Wonderland meets Little Red Riding Hood in this charmed tale.
The Tea Party in the Woods is a beautiful tale, equal parts Red Riding Hood and Alice. In her adventures, she meets a group of animals having a tea party in a strange house that she has never seen before. When the animals realize that Kikko has ruined the pie that was originally intended for her grandmother, they work together to help Kikko reach her grandmother with an equally appealing and delicious gift.
Much of the landscape throughout the book is rendered in black and white, with minimal and strategic use of red and yellow throughout. This limited colour palette serves to highlight those things that are reminiscent of warmth, comfort, and joy. Kikko's yellow hair and her red skirt, hat, and mittens are highlighted throughout the book, with other objects such as the pie, the ribbon on the box, and other bits of clothing worn by the animals are rendered in reds and yellows in the latter half of the book.
The spare imagery and incredible use of white space makes the illustrations all the more captivating. Miyakoshi is a truly talented storyteller and this particular book will be a hit, I'm sure.