Review Blog

Jan 06 2011

Cloud tea monkeys by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham

cover image

Ill. by Juan Wijngaard. Walker Books, 2010. ISBN 9781406300925.
Recommended. Tashi lives on a tea plantation and plays with the monkeys who come out of the surrounding forests. She shares her food with them. Her mother, who picks tea, becomes very ill and can no longer pick tea to support herself and her daughter. Tashi tries to pick in her place but the cruel overseer chases her away. After she tells the monkeys her story they steal her basket and return with cloud tea.
Based on Himalayan folklore, this story tugs at the heartstrings. Tashi's generosity with the monkeys is repaid in full when they help her out by picking tea high up in the clouds. The plight of the tea pickers when disaster looms and the overseer's cruelty in ignoring his workers' needs is depicted in beautiful language. The magical resolution will be reassuring to young readers.
Beautifully illustrated by Juan Wijngaard, each full-page picture is luminous and filled with vivid detail that adds to the story and the reader's understanding of the characters and events. Additional evocative black and white illustrations are interspersed on the pages of print.
Cloud tea monkeys is a beautiful book that deserves a place on library shelves.
Pat Pledger

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