November 20, 2016


Rebecca Young and Matt Ottley's Teacup is the story of a boy who is forced to leave home one day and sail to a safer place. The only things the boy is able to take with him are a book, a bottle, a blanket, and "a teacup with some earth from where he used to play." He doesn't leave with family, and he doesn't have a destination in mind, all he has is hope during his seemingly endless journey to keep him company.

The deeper themes in the story are, of course, extra poignant right now. We feel for the boy as he spends day after day adrift in a boundless sea, and the text and images are approached with an appropriate solemnity and quietness. The text is carefully curated so that each word counts, and it has the rhythm of a boat gently rocking back and forth across the ocean: one thing he sees reminds him of another moment in his life; one day the sky shines bright, and the next it's dark. It's like a pendulum swinging back and forth, gently carrying us through this difficult story.

The illustrations only build on that gentleness, enveloping readers in the scene they're witnessing. The illustrations are acrylic paintings, and Ottley paints them very large in order to get all of the detailing just right. His mastery of light is incredible, and I struggled so hard to choose images to show you--these tiny images just cannot do the detail Ottley provides justice.

It's a stunningly beautiful book with rhythmic text that touches on a very important and relevant topic. If you haven't had the chance to take a look, it's worth locating a copy and sharing it with your child. This is the kind of story meant to be shared.

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