Teacup is a sensitive read that any child who is going through a time of change and upheaval could find comfort and solace in. It is quite an advanced picture book so is definitely suited to older children as much of the understanding comes from digging deeper into the words and looking for meaning in the illustrations.
A young boy who has to leave home carries with him a few homely possessions. The most precious of all, a teacup full of earth from where he used to play is a final reminder of home. Somedays at sea are better than others and the journey fluctuates from tranquil, peaceful and calm to dangerous and foreboding. In lonely times the boy is comforted by an albatross that reminds him of the way his kite dipped and dived back home and the call of the whales reminds him of his mother’s teatime call.
On his journey, a seed buried in the soil in the teacup begins to grow and the tree that grows provides the boy with protection from the elements, nourishment and a place for relaxing. Eventually the boy makes land and soon a companion arrives with her own precious possession.
We are never told why the boy has to leave home and why he is making the journey alone and this in itself provides a wonderful opportunity for discussion. Subtle hints about the length of the journey are visible in the artwork - the lengthening of the boy’s hair, the changing of the seasons. I loved the ending where there are feelings of hope, new possibilities and friendship.
The story conveys a strong message about migration and the strong connection that we feel to our home. Whilst we may venture to new places and settle in new lands there is no place that will replace home. I felt quite emotional reading this story. I am from England but live in Australia, far away from family and my closest friends. And whilst Australia has been kind to me and I am happy to live here there is no substitute for home.
The poetic prose of Rebecca Young are accompanied by sumptuous artwork from Matt Ottley. The size of the challenge and the monumental journey that the boy faces are gloriously expressed in epic oil paintings where the sky and sea are endless.
This is a lovely big hug of a tale about leaving home and finding another.
Recommended for 8+.