Written by: Kelly Starling Lyons
Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis
For ages: 6-10 years
Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Family, Dementia, Slavery, Love, Cooking, History, African-American Culture & Traditions.
Summary: This book is about the relationship between a grandmother and her grandson, Tosh. His favorite thing to do is make tea cakes with his grandmother and listen to her stories. Tosh’s grandma talks about their family history and how people used to be enslaved. These tea cakes connect them to their past, and connect Tosh and his grandmother today. One day, Tosh begins to notice that his grandma can’t remember things, and it slowly affects her ability to remember even the tea cake recipe. Tosh talks to his family, and learns that sometimes this happens with older people. Tosh decides to memorize the tea cake recipe and teach his grandmother how to make them, ensuring this special family recipe maintains the connection to the past.
This book is all about family relationships and focusing on embracing the past while maintaining connections with the future. It’s often hard when younger people have relationships with older generations to explain what aging can do to the body and mind. This book touches on multiple topics for young readers: enslavement, dementia, family strength, and a delicious tea cake recipe! Lyons has written a book that engages with racial dynamics in our country in an age-appropriate way that opens the door for engaging discussions and transformational learning.
- Which members of your family do you have a strong connection with like Tosh and his grandmother?
- What makes these inter-generational friendships valuable?
- What can we learn from those older than us?
Continuing the Conversation:
- Connect with an older family member and learn about what their life was like when they were your age. What is the same and what has changed?
- Make the tea cake recipe in the book! Why is it important to have these connections to the past?
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Kelly Starling Lyons began her journey to become a children’s book author in her hometown of Pittsburgh. She learned the art of storytelling from her mom who took her to productions at a children’s theater, wrote plays and made up bedtime tales. Her grandparents, who showed their imagination through cooking and gardening, taught her to honor the magic of history and home. Surrounded by creativity, Lyons began to write. Now a children’s book author, her mission is to transform moments, memories and history into stories of discovery.
Her books include chapter book, NEATE: Eddie’s Ordeal; CCBC Choices-honored picture book One Million Men and Me; Ellen’s Broom, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award Book and Junior Library Guild and Bank Street Best selection; Tea Cakes for Tosh and Hope’s Gift, Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People and One More Dino on the Floor, a Scholastic Reading Club pick. Her chapter book series debuted in September 2017 with two titles – Jada Jones: Rock Star and Jada Jones: Class Act. Forthcoming 2019 titles include: Jada Jones: Sleepover Scientist, Jada Jones: Dancing Queen, Going Down Home with Daddy and Sing a Song.
E.B. Lewis is the illustrator of a numerous books for children including Talkin’ About Bessie (a 2003 Coretta Scott King Award winner), The Bat Boy and His Violin (a Coretta Scott King Honor book), Down the Road (a Notable Book for Children by the American Library Association), and The Other Side (a Notable Book for Language Arts). The Coretta Scott King Award is the premier award honoring African-American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults.
Inspired by two artist uncles, as early as the third grade, Lewis displayed artistic promise. Beginning in the sixth grade, he attended the Saturday Morning Art League and studied with Clarence Wood. Lewis attended the Temple University Tyler School of Art, where, he discovered his medium of preference was watercolor.
During his four years at Temple, Lewis majored in Graphic Design, Illustration and Art Education. After graduating, he taught art in public schools for twelve years. Presently, E.B. teaches at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He is also a member of The Society of Illustrators in New York City, and an artist member of Salamagundi Art Club of New York.