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Cloud Tea Monkeys by Mal Peet

Cloud Tea Monkeys

by Mal Peet, Elspeth Graham

Other authors: Juan Wijngaard (Illustrator)

Series: Painting Out The Stars (1)

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According to the Authors’ Note at the conclusion of their tale, two major themes were behind the inspiration for Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham’s Cloud Tea Monkeys: a “centuries old legend of tea-picking monkeys” as told by Himalayan tea pickers as well as the authors reflecting on goods that were once few and far between that nowadays can be readily purchased in shops worldwide. From those ideas, Peet and Graham created the story of Tashi and her mother that has the rhythm and feel of a fairy tale, supported perfectly by the delicate and gorgeous illustrations of artist Juan Wijngaard.
Tashi’s mother is a tea picker, and every day Tashi follows her mother to the fields. While her mother works, Tashi spends her day with a group of monkeys whom she has befriended. One day, Tashi’s mother falls ill, and Tashi must go alone to the fields and try to pick tea in her mother’s place so that they can afford a doctor’s care.
While the text text is too dense for new readers, Cloud Tea Monkeys would still make a lovely and comforting bedtime tale. Teachers may find this story to be useful when discussing the people, history or culture of the Himalayas or issues of oppression and work conditions. Either way, children will be enchanted by round-cheeked, sweet-faced Tashi and her clever monkey friends. ( )
  ARQuay | Oct 31, 2013 |
Originally published in 1999, and illustrated by Alan Marks, this tale of a Himalayan tea-picker's daughter has just been reprinted, with gorgeous new artwork by Juan Wijngaard! It follows the story of Tashi, who - considered too young to work - spends her time playing in the shade with the monkeys, while her mother works all day picking tea leaves in the huge plantation fields. When her mother becomes ill, and cannot work, and Tashi's efforts to take her place lead only to ridicule at the hands of the cruel Overseer, it seems that the situation is hopeless. But some assistance from her monkey friends, and a surprise visit from the Royal Tea Taster, leads to a most unexpected change in Tashi and her mother's lives...

Cloud Tea Monkeys is such a beautiful book! With its simple story of an impoverished but loving family, who barely skirt disaster, it highlights the reality of poverty in a non-didactic way, teaching children that for many, a simple illness can lead to utter destitution. I liked that Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham didn't feel the need to spell everything out: they don't explain why Tashi and her mother seem to be on their own, they don't rub the reader's face in the desperation of the world's laboring poor, letting their narrative speak for itself. I also liked - even loved! - the artwork. The ink and gouache illustrations by Juan Wijngaard are simply breathtaking, with a rich, colorful palette, and many expressive details. Anyone who loves beautifully-illustrated picture-books should definitely take a look at this one! ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Apr 15, 2013 |
This book is so great I could barely stay in my chair while reading it! It is a good story. ( )
  dhf | Apr 6, 2011 |
Showing 3 of 3
Juan Wijngaard's illustrations in "Cloud Tea Monkeys" are stunning; you can see the very hairs on the monkeys' bodies, and the indigo and violet of saris and turbans practically glow. Best of all is his series of small black-and-white drawings that show the immensely dignified tea taster appraising a first mouthful of cloud tea.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peet, MalAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Graham, Elspethmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Wijngaard, JuanIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0763644536, Hardcover)

Carnegie Medalist Mal Peet and his wife, Elspeth Graham, team up for a captivating, lushly illustrated tale evoking a Chinese legend.

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Tashi lives in a tiny village at the foot of the mountains, below the tea plantations where her mother works. When her mother falls ill, Tashi goes alone to the plantation, hoping to earn money for the doctor. But she is far too small to harvest the tender shoots, and her clumsy efforts anger the cruel Overseer. She is desolate, until — chack-chack-chack! — something extraordinary happens. Inspired by a centuries-old legend of tea-picking monkeys, here is a richly told tale full of vivid characters: the heartless Overseer, the enigmatic Royal Tea Taster, and — far away — an empress with a penchant for tea.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:51 -0400)

When her mother becomes too ill to harvest tea on the nearby plantation, Shenaz is too small to fill in, but when she tells the monkeys she has befriended why she is sad, they bring her a basket filled with rare and valuable wild tea.

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Candlewick Press

An edition of this book was published by Candlewick Press.

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