A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The story, and its illustrations, show how and where tea is grown, that it is raised on plantations, and is picked by hand. It also introduces the Asian legend of cloud tea and gives a quick introduction to the world of rajahs, empresses, and wild monkeys who pick the tea.
Like most folk stories, this one carries the strong message that good overcomes evil, and justice prevails.
Positive Role Models
The little girl is kind and hardworking, as is her mother and the other women in the story. Because the girl befriends the monkeys, they in turn help her out. The overseer is "bad-tempered," "beaky," and cruel. He laughs a cruel laugh and humiliates the little girl for trying to fill her mother's shoes. He gets his comeuppance from the more powerful tea-taster for the empress.
Violence & Scariness
No overt violence is shown, but the mother gets sick and can't work, which puts the family in jeopardy, and the cruel, heartless overseer is pretty scary, and humiliates the young girl.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this folk tale, which includes a sickly mother, a brave little girl, a heartless overseer, and a royal tea taster who knows value when he tastes it, came from an ancient legend about tea-picking monkeys. It's a magical tale, OK for younger readers but not really aimed toward them.
Is It Any Good?
Readers, especially early elementary-aged kids who can read fluently, will love this book. They will be captivated by the way the story is told, as well as by the lessons it teaches. The innocent young girl is pitted against the cruel ogre, justice confronts injustice, poor workers are at the mercy of the plantation owners and overseer, and so on. Happily, in true storybook fashion, kindness and goodness win out in the end through a very well-earned twist of magic and circumstance.
Though this story itself is not really an ancient folktale, it seems like one. True, as the authors' note tells us, it grew out of "many tea-picking tales we found in the high mountain countries of the Himalayan region." Together, they have definitely woven those tales into a real classic. And the artwork makes it even more spectacular.
The cover, and all of the artwork that follows within, are absolutely captivating. First of all, a children's book with a black cover will catch almost anyone's eye. But this one, with the little girl in the golden shawl, looking almost as if the sun were shining on her, and the steamy swirl of monkeys rising from her cup of tea, promises a rich magical story. The artwork inside, done in pencil and gouche, is equally rich and elegant. From the quiet peace of the Himalayan landscape, the noise of the chattering monkeys, the emotion on the faces of the characters, and the rich details of the costuming, Juan Wijngaad does a masterful job of illustrating scene after scene.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate