Books & Literature

Book Review: The Mad Cappers’ Tea Party, by Marnie Stocks, illustrated by Sally Heinrich

PICTURE BOOK: The Mad Cappers’ Tea Party is a fun-filled story of two children who help their adult friend come to terms with the unusual and awkward problem of losing her hair.

A beautifully illustrated story which celebrates friendship and kindness.

Marnie Stocks is a plant biologist who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. When she began to lose her hair, her friends decided to throw a Mad Cappers’ Tea Party to help her feel better. Everyone arrived with a “bald” head and brought along wacky head coverings. Marnie has now written about this experience to help others.

Adelaide-based Sally Heinrich has illustrated many award-winning books including One Step at a Time and Papa Sky as well as writing and illustrating her own picture books, activity books, and novels. She is known for her exquisite drawings and lino prints.

The Mad Cappers’ Tea Party is the story of Marnie who has a very big problem. She is worried because she has lost her hair, and hair is of course a very useful thing for many reasons. Hair also gives you your identity, so how will anyone recognise Marnie now? Her friends desperately want to help, so they decide to throw a special party where everyone brings all sorts of things Marine could use to cover her head. Lots of fun ensues as we discover some of the crazy ideas her friends have come up with.

The story Marnie Stock has written celebrates friendship and kindness toward those we care about. The simple text can be read by most children above six years and is a fun book to read to pre-schoolers. There could be lots of discussions regarding different hats and what they represent, from cultural hats to practical hats and just plain fun hats. Teachers may enjoy asking their class to illustrate their own ideas for head coverings and then maybe create some to wear at their own tea party. Creative classes could easily turn the story into a play.

Sally Heinrich’s beautifully detailed and colourful illustrations are a joy right down to the facial expressions of the dog and cat. The illustrations stand by themselves on each page without need of a background. This gives the reader the sense that they are almost jumping off the page.

The reason for Marnie’s hair loss is never mentioned in the story. This allows discussions with children about the different reasons people may lose their hair and help them become more empathetic.

Marnie and Sally’s hope is that The Mad Cappers’ Tea Party will help to break down barriers by allowing people to talk about hair loss and the other effects of chemo therapy.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Love & Laughter Publications
Released: July 2022
RRP: $25

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