Tigers and Tea with Toppy

by Barbara Kerley (Author) Matte Stephens (Illustrator)

Tigers and Tea with Toppy
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
* "A powerful story of following one's dreams and passions, despite life's challenges." --School Library Journal, starred review

Rhoda loves spending time with Toppy. He is not only her beloved grandpa, but also the world-famous wildlife artist Charles R. Knight! Every outing with Toppy -- from visits to the American Museum of Natural History and the Central Park Zoo to tea parties at The Plaza Hotel -- is filled with fun and adventure.

Lovers of animals, art, natural history, and New York City will relish this vivacious and winsomely depicted true story. Presented through Rhoda's eyes, it celebrates the enchantment of scientific inquiry, a tender grandparent-grandchild bond, and the vision of a pioneering artist who opened our eyes to the wonders of the ancient world.

Included in this book are more than a dozen of Charles R. Knight's original paintings and drawings, interspersed with Matte Stephens's winsome illustrations.
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Publishers Weekly

As a girl in New York City, Knight Kalt loved spending weekends with her grandfather Toppy--the legendary artist Charles R. Knight, whose pioneering, dramatic murals of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures captured the public's imagination. Together, they peruse the displays of his work in the American Museum of Natural History--"She feels the magic of traveling to an ancient world," write Kerley (A Home for Mr. Emerson) and Knight Kalt--and visit the Central Park Zoo, where Toppy's commentary on tigers and other animals always draws a crowd. Knight Kalt also mingles with interesting people in Toppy and grandmother Nonnie's apartment; watches her grandfather, his eyesight weak since childhood, daub at his work; and wonders what she will grow to enjoy as much as he loves "drawing and painting animals." Matching the text's affection is gouache art by Stephens (Mr. Flux), which conveys how a larger-than-life figure takes shape in a child's mind's eye, and incorporates Knight's actual paintings and drawings. A wealth of detail (including Toppy's fascinating backstory) is handled with the lightest of touches, and final pages include author notes, source information, and photographs. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

K-Gr 3--Rhoda loves to visit her grandparents every weekend. She and her grandfather, Toppy, spend time at their favorite places. At the American Museum of Natural History, Toppy shows Rhoda through the museum where they stop and look at Toppy's paintings. Rhoda's grandfather turns out to be Charles R. Knight, world-renowned wildlife artist. Rhoda loves to listen to him talk about the animals he's studied and painted. He's as good a storyteller as he is a painter. As a boy, Toppy loved to draw and he spent hours learning about animals so he could draw them. Despite poor eyesight that worsened over time, he never gave up on his dream. After their time at the museum, Rhoda and Toppy go back to the house to have dinner with Grandma Nonnie. Toppy works on his book about drawing animals. Even though he can barely see, he continues to pursue the craft he loves so dearly. Combining the talents of Kerley with the experiences of Kalt, along with the art of Stephens and Knight himself, makes for a powerful book. VERDICT Not only is this a story of the tender relationship between a grandfather and granddaughter, it's also a powerful story of following one's dreams and passions, despite life's challenges. A first purchase for most libraries.--Heidi Grange, Summit Elementary School, Smithfield, UT

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for Tigers & Tea With Toppy

* "Not only is this a story of the tender relationship between a grandfather and granddaughter, it's also a powerful story of following one's dreams and passions, despite life's challenges." — School Library Journal, starred review

"A loving remembrance of a tender, enduring intergenerational relationship." — Kirkus Reviews

"A wealth of detail...is handled with the lightest of touches." — Publishers Weekly

"[An] appealing introduction to the groundbreaking work of American wildlife artist Charles R. Knight." — The Horn Book
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Scholastic Press
Publication date
September 20, 2018
BISAC categories
JNF007010 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Art
JNF006050 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Art | Painting
JNF031000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Lifestyles | City & Town Life
JNF019030 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Family | Multigenerational
Library of Congress categories
New York (State)
New York
Grandparent and child
Homes and haunts
Wildlife artists
Knight, Charles Robert
Kalt, Rhoda Knight

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