I was so excited to find a signed copy of today’s Perfect Picture Book to gift my new grandson and his multilingual, tea-loving parents. And I couldn’t wait to share it with you!
Title: Luli and the Language of Tea
Written By: Andrea Wang
Illustrated By: Hyewon Yum
Publisher/Date: Neal Porter Books, a division of Holiday House/2022
Suitable for Ages: 3-7
Themes/Topics: tea, language, immigrants
The playroom was quiet. Luli couldn’t speak English. Neither could the others. All around the room, children played alone.
Brief Synopsis: In an English as a second language class, young Luli notices that the children can’t communicate with one another. So she devises a plan to overcome the language barrier.
Links to Resources:
- Host a backyard tea party for friends, pets, or even favorite stuffed animals;
- Do you have a friend or relative who speaks a language other than English? Ask them to teach you some common words and/or phrases in their primary language;
- Check out the Educator’s Guide.
Why I Like this Book:
In her latest picture book, Wang highlights a problem, non-English speakers unable to communicate with one another, and offers a practical and heartwarming solution. Luli realizes that none of the children in the class can communicate with one another because they all speak different languages. So she devises a plan to bridge the linguistic barrier via a universal language, the language of tea.
Until I read this story, I confess that I had no idea that the word for tea is similar in so many languages across the globe. Thankfully, the editors have chosen to include the pronunciation of the term in each language.
Luli also encounters a problem as she passes the tea to each child. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I will share that Lili’s kindness to the other children is reciprocated.
Yum’s expressive illustrations help show how Lili’s kindness reverberates through the classroom. And the endpapers filled with teacups from the countries featured are charming. Backmatter includes a note from the author, information about the children and languages featured, and information about immigration to the US from the regions featured, as well as how they drink tea in their home regions.
A Note about Craft:
I love how Wang focused on a drink enjoyed around the world, tea, researched how people use similar words for it, and created a storyline showing how sharing this beverage could bring children closer together. In an author’s note, she also shares that she was familiar with classes for new immigrants because her parents moved to the US from China before she was born. That personal connection added to her research enabled Wang to craft a story that is heartwarming and informative.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!