Luli and the Language of Tea (Hardcover)
On Our Shelves Now
Though they may speak different languages, kids from all over the world come together to enjoy the shared pastime of tea in this delicious book for young readers.
When five-year-old Luli joins her new English as a Second Language class, the playroom is quiet. Luli can’t speak English, neither can anyone else. That’s when she has a brilliant idea to host a tea party and bring them all together.
Luli removes her teapot, thermos, and teacups from her bag and calls out “Chá!” in her native Chinese. One by one, her classmates pipe up in recognition: in Russian, Hindi, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, and Spanish, Portuguese, and Swahili. Tea is a tasty language they all know well, and it gives them a chance to share and enjoy each other’s company. When all the tea is gone and it’s time for dessert, Luli gets to use her favorite English word, cookie! After that, the playroom isn’t so quiet.
Informed by her own experience as the child of Chinese immigrant parents, Andrea Wang makes the point that when you’re looking to communicate with people, you look for a common bond. The word for “tea” is similar in many languages, and tea becomes the unifying metaphor that brings a diverse group of children together. Additional material at the back of the book explores the rich and ancient history of tea drinking across cultures all around the world and contains maps, statistics, and fascinating details that will delight young readers.
A Booklist Editors’ Choice Selection
A CSMCL Best Multicultural Children's Book of the Year
About the Author
Andrea Wang is the award-winning author of Watercress, illustrated by Jason Chin, which Kirkus called “Understated, deep, and heart rending” in a starred review. She is also the author of The Nian Monster and Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando as well as the forthcoming middle-grade novel, The Many Meanings of Meilan. Andrea holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for Young People. She lives in Colorado with her family.
Hyewon Yum is the author and illustrator of many acclaimed books for children, including Not Little, written by Maya Myers (Neal Porter Books, 2021). Other books include This Is Our House, The Twins' Blanket, There Are No Scary Wolves, and Last Night. Her book Mom, It's My First Day of Kindergarten! received the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.
"There’s inclusion from the start. . . . No one language or culture is prioritized, and no one is left out. One of the book’s linguistic treats is that each language’s word for tea is presented both phonetically (as it sounds when uttered out loud) and in written form, giving readers a visual taste of Mandarin, Russian, Hindi, Persian and Arabic."—New York Times
"Gentle, child-like art is as inviting as a cup of warm tea. With utter simplicity, this book connects disparate cultures to build natural community."—San Francisco Chronicle
★ "[A] gladdening picture book. . . . Yum demonstrates her facility with colored pencils in Luli's classroom scenes and endpapers, in which a glorious spread captures an assortment of teacups, each decorated in a style suited to the country it represents." —Shelf Awareness, Starred Review
★ "Wang writes a simple, precise narrative that is more than the sum of its parts. Few writers could conjure up the characters' contentment as concisely. . . . Yum's sensitive colored-pencil illustrations use clean lines, rounded shapes, and soft hues to depict the setting and reveal the characters' emotions. . . . A rewarding read-aloud choice."—Booklist, Starred Review
"Wang (Watercress) brings a group of children together via a beloved beverage in this warming picture book. . . . a bird’s-eye view emphasizes the community that accompanies sharing a cup of tea."—Publishers Weekly
"Yum’s colored-pencil illustrations work alongside Wang’s simple, rhythmic text to highlight the concepts of uniqueness and similarity. . . . A warming and gentle celebration of connection."—Kirkus Reviews
"Tea drinking everywhere celebrates community and togetherness; Wang (Watercress, rev. 3/21) has cleverly re-created (and diversified) that ritual in a microcosm. Yum's (Saturday Is Swimming Day, rev. 7/18) overhead view of the table shows smiling faces and varied skin tones, and her illustrations make clear that the Asian teacups with no handles are perfect for small hands—and safe."—The Horn Book
"Wang’s seamless text weaves the children’s names, spoken language, and pronunciations into her story. Meanwhile Yum’s illustrations give life and personality to the children with spot-on expressions and plenty of detail. . . . A delightful look at coming together despite differences. . . ."—School Library Journal
"Uplifting, heart-filling, and beautifully illustrated, Luli and the Language of Tea reminds us that the language of kindness is universal."—Christina Soontornvat, Newbery and Sibert Honoree for All Thirteen
"With charm and lightness of touch, Andrea Wang and Hyewon Yum brew up a universal instance in the lives of all recent immigrants—the welcome realization that despite our different languages and the color of our skin, we are blended more by our similarities than our differences."—Eugene Yelchin, Newbery Honoree for Breaking Stalin's Nose and author of Genius at the Table
"Like a sip of delicious hot tea, this book will warm your heart and feed your soul. A wonderful reminder that taking a risk and pouring yourself into new friendships can lead to connections that are deeper than words." —Minh Lê, author of Drawn Together and Lift