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Tea Cakes for Tosh

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  178 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Tosh loves his grandma Honey and her delicious golden tea cakes. When she tells the story of how the cookies became part of their family, he feels like he's flying back in time. But then one day, Honey starts forgetting things, even an ingredient for the tea cakes. Inspired by his love for his grandma and respect for his family's heritage, Tosh finds a way to give Honey ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published December 6th 2012 by Putnam Juvenile
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Average rating 4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  178 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Age: K-2nd grade
History: Slavery
Family: Grandma
Tough Issue: Alzheimer's

A well constructed story that discusses two unique issues--slavery and Alzheimer's--and blends it around a family's recipe for cookies. The illustrations are emotionally evocative and I love that every other page depicts an ingredient of the tea cakes on a recipe card.
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5th-grade, diversity
A story about the relationship between a young boy and his grandmother. She starts to lose her memory and he helps her remember their favorite story about the tea cakes her grandmother used to make while enslaved. Beautiful imagery and detailed illustrations. Really makes you want to make the tea cakes! And you can because they give the recipe at the end.
This book packs a punch. I was tearing up by the end. Grandma gets Alzheimers or dementia of some kind and Tosh helps her remember important things. Nice illustrations - this felt like a real grandma. Lewis also has a good ear for dialogue, making it all the more realistic (and therefore heartwrenching).
Christina Carter
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It was a pleasure to finally get the chance to read one of Kelly Starling Lyons books. I have followed her on Twitter this past school year and appreciate the work that she does as a founding member of The Brown Bookshelf.

Tea Cakes for Tosh is the first book of Kelly's that I've read and it warmed my heart! It got me good in that sweet spot where memories of times spent with grandparents dwells. That place where laughter, freshly baked coconut cake, big hugs, and stories still linger. Cherish
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book
This book is a keeper for sure!

"Tea Cakes for Tosh" tells the story of a grandmother and a grandson's bond through lessons of tea cakes, love and family history. Or, as stated on the book's back cover, "A grandson and his grandmother bridge past and present."

Kelly Starling Lyon tells not only a story about family bonds and baked goods, she broaches the subject of slavery and does so in a kid-friendly way. As described on page 1, Tosh feels a warmth from both his grandma's flavorful tea cakes and
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This story combines two difficult topics - slavery and Alzheimer's disease.
Tosh and his grandmother enjoy spending time together. She bakes a special tea cake cookie and shares their family's history - Grandma Ida was a slave who was a cook. When she could, she smuggled some of the golden cookies to the children at great risk. This recipe has been passed down in the family.
Tosh notices little things his grandmother forgets and wonders about it. One day she can't remember how to bake the tea
A.E. Fuhrman
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is a beautiful story of remembering and heritage and family.
Tosh's great-great-great-great-grandmother Ida cooked in the big house on the plantation. She made the best tea cakes around. She wasn't supposed to, but sometimes she sneaked a few out for the children--"a promise of days to come." Her story and her recipe were passed down from generation to generation as a legacy of love and heritage. But when Tosh's grandmother begins to forget the story and the recipe, Tosh finds a way to
Lewiston-Altura Librarian
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a sweet book about grandparents and grandchildren sharing family history. But it also the sad story many of know about dementia. It would be a great story to start that conversation with young ones.
I appreciate the recipe in the book for tea cakes!
lovely inter-generational interaction especially when Honey is forgetting.
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
So sweet! Love the message about Grandma getting older and how we can be the memory for our elders. I also always love a book centered around baked goods! (Providing the recipe sealed the deal!)
Viviane Elbee
Beautiful, touching story.
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Tea cakes actually came to the U.S. via British colonists, who liked these sweet round buttery cookies served with their afternoon tea. While American slaves working in the kitchens were not allowed to eat them, they were required to bake and serve them. Following the emancipation of the slaves, however, African-American cooks continued to make them, and they became a tradition in black families.

Tea Cakes for Tosh celebrates that tradition with the touching story of young Tosh who loves spending
Oct 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Tosh loved spending time with his grandma Honey, who baked him tea cakes. She told him stories of the cakes, dating all the way back to his great-great-great-great-grandma Ida who made the best tea cakes around. But those tea cakes were not for her children, they were for her owners since she was a slave. Sometimes though, she would make some extra cakes for her children to promise that things would change. Honey started to forget things, like where she parked her car and phone numbers. Then one ...more
A beautifully written story about the special bond a grandmother and her grandson share. Tosh's time spent with his grandma Honey are spent eating delicious homemade tea cakes and listening to Honey tell stories about their family from generations past. When Honey begins to forget things it is Tosh who helps her and carries on the tradition of sharing tea cakes and stories.

The watercolor paintings perfectly support this story. When Honey tells stories the color palette changes to reflect the
Gentle and sweet like the titular cookies, “Tea Cakes for Tosh” is a child’s look at the distant past and the worrying present. As the story unfolds, Tosh’s grandma Honey starts forgetting things and many adults know what such memory loss could mean for the unfortunate individual.

Tosh’s determination to be of help to his forgetful grandma is inspiring to read and tugs gently at the heart. Attaching his grandma’s memory to food is a very convincing tactic to take; anyone who has a favorite food
Esmeralda Gregg
This book tells of the special relationship between Tosh and his Grandma Honey. Tosh loves listening to Grandma Honey tell family stories. His favorite is about the special tea cakes that smell like vanilla and sunshine. When Grandma Honey prepares the cakes she tells the story of a great-great-great-great-grandma Ida's whose receive she is preparing and explains what life was like for slaves children. Unlike Tosh, the slave children weren't allowed to have any of the treats, though Grandma Ida ...more
Sep 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Tosh loves when his grandma Honey bakes her golden tea cakes, from a recipe passed down from when his grandma’s grandma’s grandma was a slave cook on a plantation. But then grandma Honey starts forgetting things, like where she parked the car, a phone number, and even the ingredients for the beloved tea cakes. But luckily Tosh has already been taught how to make them, and helps Honey remember the story behind the tradition. An important lesson of learning traditions, recipes, and family history ...more
Tameika King
Oct 08, 2013 added it
Shelves: libs-642
This book is about a little boy who loves to hear his Grandmother's stories. I loved this story. It reminded me of the relationship I had with my Grandma. I think that anyone who has a close bond with their grandmother would relate to the book. The illustrations are mostly in color but go to black and white whenever Tosh's grandmother is talking about the past. One thing that I would do with students is have them read the story and then write a journal entry about someone who they are really ...more
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was such a beautifully written and touching story about a young boy who loves to hear his grandma talk about times past. Times in which neither of them lived, during a time of slavery and the struggles their ancestors went through. Grandmother had always told these stories with such detail they both felt as if they are being transported back in time as witnesses. However, when grandma gets older recalling these stories becomes challenging for her aging mind to recall. Through baking and ...more
Saba N  Taylor
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful story about a boy who helps his grandmother remember a long and cherished family tradition. Tosh loves his grandmother's tea cakes and the story that goes with it. But when his grandmother begins to forget things, including how to make the family's time treasured tea cakes and their family story, he helps by making the cakes and telling her the story. It is a warming and heartfelt story that emphasis's the relationship of family, time honored traditions, treasuring family history and ...more
Allison Fortunato
I really enjoyed this story because Tosh never gave up on Honey. She had told him a lot of stories and made him teacakes and when she started to forget things he remembered and helped her out. My favorite part of the story was when Tosh made the teacakes for Honey. That was a very special gesture on his part and it was very thoughtful. In the story you could tell from the words of the story how touched Honey was that he did that.
Alison Streb
Through the use of his grandma’s golden tea cakes, Tosh learns about his great-great-great-great grandma who used to be a slave. This story is very heartwarming and a story that emphasis’s the relationship of family and honors traditions. The story shows the little boy dealing with his grandmother’s aging and lapses in her memory, students may be able to relate to this with their own grandparents.
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
I loved this story of family and the importance of oral history. As Grandma bakes tea cookies for Tosh she tells hime the story if his 4x great grandma Ida who was a slave on a plantation. One day Tosh's grandmother can no longer remember the story due to dementia; however, through her Tosh knows the story and in turn shares it with his grandmother. Beautiful illustrations by E.B. Lewis make the story even more special.
Jan 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Lyons tells a story that at first seems like a simple tale of a grandmother baking for her grandson. Instead, it’s a tale that touches on the delicate subjects of slavery, passing on a legacy, and Alzheimer’s. While reading “Tea Cakes” I am transported to my own grandmother’s kitchen sitting at the table and waiting for teacakes. Lewis’s combination of colorful and black and white watercolors adds to the book’s flavor. Included is also a recipe for the tasty treats.
Margaret Boling
8/10/2019 ~ Helping beloved elders when their memory starts to fail. Pair with The Remember Balloons or Wilfrid Gordon MacDonald Partridge.

12/27/2016 ** Beautiful story about memories, baking, and grandmothers. E.B. Lewis's illustrations - and use of color & sepia - enhance the poignant story about Tosh's time with his grandmother. This book would pair well with Saturdays and Teacakes (Laminack) and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (Fox).
Heart warming book about a young boy and his grandmother and the relationship they have forged over a shared experience of making tea cakes. The history of the tea cakes is one that the boy learns well from his grandmother and then shares with her as she slips into the haze of dementia. The artwork is fabulous to boot!
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book
This one really took me back to my Great Aunt Nonnie and her famous Tea Cakes. Every Christmas she and her sisters sent my sister and I each a tin and lifting the lid on a batch of them always brings back the best parts of my childhood. I have the recipe still, passed down the generations, in my Aunt Margaret's hand. Thank you, Kelly.
Pamela Powell
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Charming story about a young boy and his grandmother. Grandmother Honey makes tea cakes (cookies) from a recipe passed down from Great-Great-Great-Great Grandma Ida who was a slave. As tasty as the cookies are, what really makes them special is the story that Grandmother Honey tells every time she bakes them.
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the most beautiful stories I've ever read; it had me balling in the break room at work, hoping no one would come in any time soon. It has such a lovely grandson/grandmother story which manages to deal with the topics of slavery and Alzheimer's disease in such realistic and clear ways while staying light, and hopeful, and kind.
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Illustrations beautifully and realistically depict emotions. A tradition is past on from generation to generation as the reader watches a loved one's health decline. A heartwarming story that enlightens.
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Kelly Starling Lyons is a children's book author and founding member of The Brown Bookshelf (, a team of authors and illustrators dedicated to raising awareness of black children's book creators. As a kid, she rarely saw stories for young readers thatfeatured characters of color.Her mission is to make surechildren today have a different reality. Herbooks include NEATE: ...more