[imperfect review] Phoebe Dupree is Coming to Tea! by Linda Ashman and Alea Marley


Who could that be?

It’s Phoebe Dupree, and she’s coming to tea!

Abby, the young narrator of this charming picture book by Linda Ashman and Alea Marley, is excited to host the amazing Phoebe Dupree, who just happens to be absolutely perfect in every way.

Phoebe is speedy.
Phoebe is smart.

She’s equally brilliant at science and art.

This puts more than a little pressure on Abby. After all, nothing less than a picture perfect tea for a positively perfect friend will do.

She knocks herself out baking delicious treats, spiffing up her dog Louie (even briefing him on proper behavior), and then laying a beautiful table with lovely flowers and polka dot china. Everything’s all set!

Abby and Louie happily greet Phoebe, who takes her seat next to a doll and two bears. But when Abby tries to bring in the treats, she struggles with the heavy tray. It starts to slip, then bobbles and wobbles – then Abby stumbles and trips. Oh no!

Cupcakes and éclairs go flying, a startled Phoebe “jostles a chair, which rattles the table,” which teeters, tips and flips. Disaster!

And if that mess isn’t enough, a wet-from-the-pool Louie runs in and shakes water and drool all over everything.

The room is in shambles,
chaotic and sad.
Things are not perfect --
they're perfectly BAD.

Abby is sure the party is over, but Phoebe sees things differently. Can’t they still have fun? The girls end up having the best time on the floor, devouring smushed cupcakes and laughing over bent flowers as they forge their budding friendship. 

This story will resonate with anyone who’s ever had hostess anxiety, or indeed, anyone who’s ever stressed over wanting to impress someone they ardently admire or idolize.

What a great message for kids about the pitfalls of perfectionism and the importance of remaining flexible and rolling with the punches.

Ashman’s lively rhyming text is a joy to read aloud. Story beats are perfectly paced, as the engaging narrative unfolds with humor, surprise and escalating suspense right through to the satisfying, feel-good ending.

Marley’s appealing illustrations, rendered in a confectionary palette of pinks and pistachios, effectively capture emotions from awe to alarm in scenes both calm and calamitous. 

Love the contrast between prim and proper Abby with her dress, pearls, and neat bun, and free-spirited Phoebe, with her expansive Afro and cargo pants. Also love Louie’s blue bow tie. 🙂

Readers will be able to see themselves – or at least, parts of themselves – in each of the characters. How reassuring to know mishaps don’t necessarily have to end badly, and that we have the power to make the most of every situation. Another cupcake, please!


written by Linda Ashman
illustrated by Alea Marley
published by Candlewick Press, June 2021
Picture Book for ages 3-7, 32 pp.
**Starred Review** from School Library Journal

♥️ Enjoy this sweet read aloud by young Jaewon Nicky Hyun:



Thanks to all who noshed on hot chocolate and churros with us last week. We’re happy to announce that the winner of a brand new copy of The Chocolate King by Michael Leventhal and Laura Catalán is:

😍 Linda Baie!! 😋


Sounds like you need to eat some extra chocolate to celebrate!!

Mr Cornelius will be sending your copy lickety split! 🙂


La La Lovely Linda Baie just happens to be hosting the Roundup over at TeacherDance. Waltz on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up around the blogosphere this week. Enjoy your weekend and Happy Valentine’s Day on Monday!! ♥️

*Interior spreads text copyright © 2021 Linda Ashman, illustrations © 2021 Alea Marley, published by Candlewick Press. All rights reserved.

**This post contains Amazon and Bookshop affiliate links. When you purchase an item using a link on this site, Jama’s Alphabet Soup receives a small referral fee at no cost to you. Thanks for your support.

***Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

27 thoughts on “[imperfect review] Phoebe Dupree is Coming to Tea! by Linda Ashman and Alea Marley

  1. Tea-rrific review of Linda and Alea’s ‘perfect’ creation. I look forward to reading it and sharing it with my students some day.
    I have to say, a certain furry someone in my family reminds me of sweet bowtied Louie – drool happens. Happy ❤ Day dear Jama!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure Smidgey would be the perfect guest at a tea party. She could regale all the other guests with her witty and insightful dogspeak :).


  2. It’s on my list, Jama, will be terrific to read to children to help them see that turning things they believe are awful can turn into wonderful! I love seeing my name on that plate, even though I know it’s for another Linda. And, ta da, love seeing my name that’s a winner! That book seems awesome, too! Thank you very much. Wishing you a sweet weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hostess anxiety! There’s a name for it. LOL. What a delightful book with a fun story about a serious topic. There’s far too much anxiety today. Dealing with it early is a good idea. Thanks for this peek into such cute book!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jama, I just love how you set up your blog posts. They are always so inviting! Hostess anxiety is what I had yesterday scrambling around setting up for a Valentine party dinner for my grandgirls. I had one afternoon to prepare and so I swept through the house putting away clutter and baking a brownie peanut butter truffle Valentine’s cake (YUM) and chocolate cracked cookies. There was so much to do in a short time but all came out fine and I was ready unlike the narrator in the delightful story. Thanks for the treat!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It was an important day when I realized that as a teacher I had spent 30 years in the throes of well-learned hostess anxiety, as though every day in the classroom was an all day party of which I was the host. No wonder I’m still exhausted. Thanks for the tasty book review!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Jama, I love this book, and I want to come to your house for tea! You always have the most delicious treats! Happy Valentine’s Day!


  7. Such an important message for kids (and other perfectionists)! This reminds me of Grant Snider’s (Incidental Comics) newest comic about perfection. (@grantdraws on IG)

    Liked by 1 person

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