Monday, June 20, 2016

The Connotations of Serving Tea...

 This weekend I’ve been binge reading some wonderful books written for middle school age children.  Blue Balliett has a gift for writing clever mysteries that integrate language, art, and math with a bit of history and science.  I have read some of them but not all; the first two are Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3.  This month I decided to read them in chronological order.  Because I am now contributing to this blog, I noticed the use of tea in a different way during this reading.

This is not a book review, but one of the main characters is Mrs. Sharpe, a senior citizen who challenges the sixth grade detectives to use their own minds to find the answers.  Whenever they are invited to her home, she serves tea.  I started thinking about the message the use of tea sends to the reader.

Mrs. Sharpe never offers milk and cookies but rather, tea and cookies.  It may be hot; it may be iced but always tea.  Why is it acceptable for an adult to serve tea to children but not coffee?  For this reader the connotation of serving tea is a sense of propriety reflecting Western Culture.  In Chasing Vermeer, the children marvel at the delicate porcelain cups and saucers.  It is a representation of White privilege.  I do not see it as a negative, but I also do not see it as typical for entertaining children in the 21st Century United States.  The tea is perhaps a stereotypical expectation for a senior citizen with an upper class background.

Exploring the world of tea takes on new meaning when stopping to consider its appearance and description in everyday reading.  And by the way, if you enjoy mysteries, I highly recommend those of Blue Balliett, and now I’m going to read The Calder Game as soon as I make myself another cup of tea.

No comments:

Post a Comment