cover image Cloud Tea Monkeys

Cloud Tea Monkeys

Mal Peet, Elspeth Graham, , illus. by Juan Wijngaard . Candlewick, $15.99 (56pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-4453-6

A story inspired by Chinese legends comes to luminous life in the hands of Carnegie Medal–winner Peet (Tamar ); his wife, Graham; and Greenaway Medalist Wijngaard (Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady ). The authors’ richly descriptive tone sets the stage: “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.” Each day, as Tashi’s mother works in the tea fields, Tashi slips away to share her lunch with the wild monkeys. When Tashi’s mother falls ill, the girl desperately tries, and fails, to pick tea to earn money for a doctor. Disappearing into the cloudy Himalayan peaks, the monkeys return with a rare, coveted “cloud tea” that prompts a life-changing reward from the visiting Royal Tea Taster. Formal, expressive ink and gouache illustrations capture every nuance; Wijngaard also gently mocks the adults in power; in a funny, four-panel illustration, the Taster comically swishes and spits like a self-important wine connoisseur. Unique and atmospheric, this tale freshly presents the karmic rewards of kindness. Ages 4–up. (Feb.)