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“Memories don’t just live inside you . . . They live in all the people and objects you share your life with,” Greta. – The Tea Dragon Society
The Tea Dragon Society
The Tea Dragon Society #1
by K. O’Neill
AR Test, Graphic Novel, LGBTQ
The winner of several children’s literature awards, The Tea Dragon Society is Kay O’Neill’s debut graphic novel. The artistic style is wholesome and soothing, and the book’s harmonious color and meandering pace makes The Tea Dragon Society a meditative read. The attention to detail and choice of color schemes also contribute to immersing readers in the realm of this trilogy. The book is divided into four chapters, each titled after a season of the year, beginning with spring.
The protagonist is a bright, young girl named Greta, the daughter and apprentice of the village blacksmith. After rescuing a stray tea dragon, she returns the hatchling to its owner and caretaker, the gentle and wise Hese. Hese has also taken a shy, young girl named Minette under his metaphorical wing.
Greta grows increasingly curious about caring for tea dragons, so she returns to Hese’s house and meets his partner, Erik, whose days as a magical bounty hunter left him confined to a wheelchair. From Erik, Greta learns that tea dragon stewardship is a dying art.
Hese and Erik teach Greta about the history of tea dragons and the Tea Dragon Society, of which they are the last surviving members. As the seasons pass, Greta and Minette’s friendship blooms into something more. Young readers may relate to Greta’s and Minette’s journeys of self-discovery, and queer readers may especially connect with their shy crushes on one another, as well as Hese and Erik’s companionship. Both queer relationships are depicted with healthy and supportive dynamics. Readers may also feel inspired by the author openly identifying as nonbinary. In addition to incorporating LGBTQ characters, the book also features people of color and people with disabilities.
The Tea Dragon Society is a beautiful story about friendship and finding your place in the world. The story encourages people to honor traditions, the past, and to always remember where you come from. Those who enjoy fantasy for its escapism rather than violence or suspense will find The Tea Dragon Society a relaxing read. Although it feels beautifully brief and ends almost too soon, readers can seek solace in the rest of the trilogy, The Tea Dragon Festival, and The Tea Dragon Tapestry.
- Hese and Erik are depicted relaxing in a hot spring, undressed from the waist up.
- Erik wipes the blood off his sword after defeating a three-headed dragon that was threatening a village.
- Hese and Erik face a gigantic black dragon in battle and have bleeding wounds on their faces and arms. Erik is thrown into the mud and knocked unconscious.
- Erik has stitches across a scar on his face and two more scars on his neck from fighting magical beasts.
Drugs and Alcohol
- The tea dragons grow tea on themselves and the tea allows people to experience memories of the past tea masters. For example, Greta drinks tea brewed from the leaves grown on a tea dragon and goes into a trance where she glimpses memories from Hese and Erik’s lives.
- Minette drinks the same tea and sees visions of her own memories.
- The book includes multiple fantasy creatures, such as goblins, dragons, and humans with features such as tails, horns, furred ears, or goat legs.
- Hese is a deerlike creature even though he walks upright, has humanlike hands, and speaks English.
- Tea grown from tea dragons has the magical power of giving dreamlike visions of memories.
- Minette has the supernatural power of seeing the future.