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Luli and the Language of Tea Hardcover – Picture Book, May 24, 2022

5.0 out of 5 stars 9 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 1–3—While parents and other adults attend ESL classes, Luli is in childcare next door. None of the children speak a common language and all play alone, but not for long because Luli has a plan. With her teacher's blessing, she brings in a thermos of hot water, a teapot, tea, and cups, then proceeds to make tea for her nine classmates (a teacher observes all of this, but the sight of small children pouring hot tea from one cup to another may need discussion at story hours). When she is done she calls to them in Chinese, "Cha!" Each child looks up in turn and replies with the word for tea in their own language including Russian, Hindi, Persian, Arabic, German, and Swahili. Despite the differences, the word is similar enough that they all understand and are soon passing cups of tea around the table, then portioning out the tea again so there is enough for Luli, who has cookies, too. All of this breaks the language barrier as the children laugh, eat, and play together. 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. Her dynamic perspectives not only give all the characters, who are depicted with various skin tones, a chance to stand out as individuals, but provide momentum to the story. An Author's Note explains Wang's inspiration and offers more world tea facts. VERDICT A delightful look at coming together despite differences that is centered on the immigrant experience of learning English. A great addition to all collections.—Catherine Callegari


"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

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Neal Porter Books (May 24, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 082344614X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0823446148
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 3 - 7 years
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ Preschool - 2
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.25 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 10 x 0.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    5.0 out of 5 stars 9 ratings

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Customer reviews

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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on May 26, 2022
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5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming & soul nourishing
By Gayatri Sethi, PhD on May 26, 2022
This is a truly heartwarming & soul nourishing read. Tough times call for sharing soulful practices. This book illustrates: Tea is a global love language. Whether we call it Che-eye or chah-ee or shay, it brings us together.
Imagine reading aloud, brewing & enjoying cha in togetherness!

“Lulu’s teapot was empty,
but her heart was full.”

This is a multilingual, multicultural story that tea lovers, ESL learners & educators will especially adore. Highly recommend for reading aloud & gifting to community.
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Reviewed in the United States on August 1, 2022
Reviewed in the United States on June 9, 2022
Reviewed in the United States on June 9, 2022
Reviewed in the United States on June 16, 2022
Reviewed in the United States on July 20, 2022
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simple, Brilliant Story of Immigration and Friendship
By Susan Wroble on July 20, 2022
Deceptively simple, author Andrea Wang’s picture book LULI AND THE LANGUAGE OF TEA brilliantly weaves together threads of language, immigration, sharing and friendship. In the United States—as a nation of immigrants—this is a vital book. And throughout the world, it is perfect for pre-school teachers, librarians and parents who are working to help children understand immigration and integrate immigrant children into their new country.

The backmatter is particularly informative. The children in the book are from countries around the world, and in the backmatter, Wang provides information on the number of immigrants from each continent, a pronunciation guide for each child’s name, and a description of how tea would be taken in their country.
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