Do not read The Crankypants Tea Party if you yourself are a little crankypants. Or maybe you should, as it might get you out of that crankypants mood. That is because, this humor is offbeat and not for everyone; therefore, who knows how you will feel afterwards! The idea of a young girl inviting her special stuffed animal friends to a tea party is not “HAAHA LAUGH OUT LOUD” funny but has the humor of a child that might be adorable but a little well, cranky.
Clarissa invites all her stuffed animal friends to a tea party, but they all refuse because they think she does not care for them. To back this up, examples are given (Elephant got sticky and when she washed them up, Clarissa got soap in Elephant’s eyes; Rabbit was made to wear a hat and now has a torn ear). Barbara Bottner’s story about friendship is modern and a bit unique. It is obvious these friends are not “alive” yet, in the way of a child’s mind, they are most certainly alive.
This is reinforced with the illustrations of Ale Barba. They are almost like if a child drew them. The animal friends are basic, with little details. They are sometimes oddly colored. However, there is an obvious adult sophistication to them as well. The colors are bold, the details minimal but represent the magic of a child’s wild imagination and wild fantasy world.
The ages this picture book is aimed at are the 3 to 6 range. The six to eight (young) could read on their own, or with a little help. The picture book format might turn the older readers off, but the playful nature of the text could still be their cup of tea.