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Cloud Tea Monkeys Hardcover – February 23, 2010

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 850L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Louisiana Young Reader's Choice Awards 2013 Grades 3-5
  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (February 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763644536
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763644536
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3—Tashi's mother labors on a tea plantation in the shadow of the Himalayas. One day she is too ill to get out of bed. Tashi knows that without her day's wages, they won't have money for a doctor, but without medical care her mother won't get well enough to work. "The problem went around and around. It was like a snake with its tail in its mouth, and Tashi was frightened by it." The child tries to pick tea herself, but she is too small to reach the tops of the plants where the tender new leaves grow. She retreats in tears, only to be comforted by a troop of monkeys she has befriended. And then the magical element of the story emerges: the monkeys climb into the mountains and pick the rarest and most sought-after tea leaves in the world. The Royal Tea Taster samples the leaves in Tashi's basket and pays her a handsome sum, with the promise of more in the future. This story, inspired by tales of tea-picking monkeys of the Himalayas, would be merely pleasant were it not for Wijngaard's expressive, richly detailed ink-and-gouache illustrations. Tashi's solemn face as she comforts her bedridden mother, the dynamic depictions of the Tea Taster swishing tea and spitting out a mouthful, the play of light through the branches under which the monkeys eat fruit, and even the delicate tracery of a decorative pattern on the bottom of each page all contribute to the thoughtful bookmaking.—Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Taking cues from Chinese legend, husband-and-wife team of Peet and Graham create a unique story set in an unspecified past. Tashi, a young girl, walks with her mother every morning to the tea plantation. While her mother and other women pick tea leaves under the scrutiny of a slimy overseer, Tashi heads off to share fruit with a group of feisty monkeys. When her mother becomes too ill to work, Tashi attempts to fill her shoes, but gets laughed off the field by the overseer. Distraught and worried there will be no money to pay for a doctor, she retreats to her secret spot. The monkeys snatch up her tea basket and disappear up into the mountain mists, returning with a basketful of nearly glowing tea. When the Royal Tea Taster appears, he nearly swoons over the rare tea in Tashi’s basket and pays her handsomely for the bounty. The tale has the feel of a time-honed fable—simple, elegant, and moving—which is especially well complemented by Wijngaard’s sumptuous illustrations. Grades 2-4. --Ian Chipman

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Customer Reviews

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See all 20 customer reviews
Me and my 6 & 8 year old girls loved this book.
The story stays with both my daughter and I long after we read it.
This is a beautiful story with amazing illustrations.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Yana V. Rodgers on February 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Tashi lives with her mother, a tea picker, in a small village that lies in the shadows of the majestic Himalaya mountains. Tashi's mother and the other women work long days on the tea plantation, ever under the watchful eyes of the bad-tempered Overseer. Although Tashi comes along, she is too young to pick tea and instead spends much of the time playing and snoozing in the shade with a group of friendly monkeys that regularly comes down from the mountain.

When her mother becomes gravely sick and cannot work, Tashi despairs that there is no money to pay for a doctor. Determined to earn the money herself, she manages to carry the heavy tea basket to the plantation, only to encounter the angry Overseer who mocks her attempt to pick tea. Even worse, after she retreats to her private spot in the shade, some of the adult monkeys grab the basket and run off with it toward the mountain. Although all seems lost, Tashi learns that small acts of kindness can be reciprocated in unusual and unexpected ways.

This book is absolutely superb. The unique story line captures a number of important themes in economics, including the vulnerability of the working poor and the incidence of child labor in developing countries. Stunning illustrations further add to the richness of Cloud Tea Monkeys, making this book as much of a treasure as the tea described within.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By JK on November 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sitting down for a morning cup of tea with my husband, I began to open the latest package from Amazon to share with him. "Not more books!" he sighed. I had ordered this one because of its Juan Wijngaard illustrations. Our family has nearly read to pieces our copies of his Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady, so I knew that Cloud Tea Monkeys would be visually exquisite. What I didn't expect was a text that was exquisite as well. Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham know how to "show not tell":
"The sun had not yet found a way through the mountains, but it was coming; a light the color of lemons was soaking into the sky and painting out the stars."
"The overseer laughed an ugly laugh full of brown teeth."
"His mustache was like a spread of snowy wings."
"Then from under the cloth there came a good deal of sniffing and snuffling: short shallow snuffles and then some long deep sniffs and then the kind of gasping that comes before a sneeze. Then another, longer silence. A hand came out from under the cloth. The fingers clicked again....When Tashi saw his face, the Royal Tea Taster no longer looked stern; he looked like a man who had seen an angel."
We read on. As I finished the story, my husband dabbed his eyes with his napkin,"It's OK, you can keep ordering books."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Inhabiting Books on September 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Tashi is a young girl living in a small village in the shadow of the Himalayan mountains. Every morning she walks to the tea plantation with her mother and sits in a secret spot playing and sharing her food with a band of monkeys who also spend each day there, as she waits while her mother spends the day picking tea. And now her mother is ill with a cough "hard and sharp like a stick breaking". One morning, when her mother is so sick she cannot rise from her bed to go to work, Tashi tries to take her place, dragging the her large tea basket to the plantation. When the heartless Overseer scorns her efforts, Tashi takes refuge in her secret spot and tearfully spills out her troubles to the monkeys. The male monkeys take Tashi's basket and disappear up the mountain into the mist, and return with the greenest, most fragrant tea leaves Tashi has ever seen or smelled.

This poignant tale is filled with lush, descriptive language as fragrant as the mysterious Cloud Tea. And Juan Winjgaard's detailed, gorgeous illustrations capture the emotion and heart of the story, and so perfectly aided my daughters' understanding of key parts of the story. This is one of those perfect marriages of text and illustrations.

As I read this book aloud to my daughters, I was struck by the realistic portrayal of Tashi's and her mother's life. The writing is so descriptive I could feel the morning chill that burned away to "cruel" heat, the fear in Tashi as she listened to her mother cough, the fear of no money available for a doctor, the weight of the basket she dragged to the tea plantation, her crushing disappointment at not being allowed to pick tea in place of her mother. (You know it's descriptive when your children try to breathe in the tea clouds as you read.) And I marvelled at Winjgaard's talent for capturing all the emotional nuances of the story. My daughters sat enthralled throughout.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mamma Ro on May 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully illustrated book with a long but well told tale. It has a touch of magic, a big helping of multicultural exposure, and captivating artwork on every page.

When I finished reading it to my daughters for the first time, the four and a half year old immediately took the book from my hands and started turning the pages herself, reviewing the full color pictures. "I liked this book" she said solemnly. Me too.

It's worth getting your hands on.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hsiaoshuang on January 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A children's book but superbly produced in terms of binding, quality of paper and stunning illustrations (see photo gallery of some of the images I've posted from the book). Buy two copies: one for your child to read, and one to keep as a treasure!
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