Friday, March 18, 2022

Luli in PW

 Luli and the Language of Tea

Andrea Wang, illus. by Hyewon Yum. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4614-8

Wang (Watercress) brings a group of children together via a beloved beverage in this warming picture book. After noticing the students in her ESL class all playing alone, young Luli draws a picture of the group sitting together, then makes her plan a reality during the next class session. After setting up “a thermos, a canister, stacks of cups, and a fat bellied teapot” on a classroom table, Luli prepares hot tea, then beckons her fellow classmates in Chinese: “Chá!” One by one, the students respond in their own languages—Arabic, German, Hindi, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and Turkish, with each response presented in the language’s script alongside an English transliteration. Soon, the table is full. All fluent in the language of tea, the kids know exactly how to ensure that each person has a warm cup in their hands, then, as a group, enjoy Luli’s new favorite English word. Yum’s (Grandpa Across the Ocean) colored pencil illustrations portray dot-eyed children with a variety of skin tones and hair textures; a bird’s-eye view emphasizes the community that accompanies sharing a cup of tea. Back matter includes an author’s note and details about the history of tea drinking. Age 3–7.


 MYERS, Maya. Not Little. illus. by Hyewon Yum. 40p. Holiday House/Neal Porter. Jul. 2021. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823446193.

K-Gr 2–Dot, a girl with light brown skin and a big bun on her head, is well aware that her stature is on the small side. In fact, she’s the tiniest one in her interracial family, as well as in her class. She feels insulted when she goes places and, “People look at me and ask me if I’m in preschool. Then I tell them that the square root of sixty-four is eight, or that Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia, or that my favorite Mars rover is Curiosity. I’m not little.” At school, filled with a diverse student body, a new boy has arrived. Dot thinks he may possibly be smaller than she is, but she hasn’t had the opportunity to find out for sure. The new boy, who is possibly of Asian descent, has bigger problems, though---a bully! Dot is not having it and sets out to prove her size once and for all. The charming illustrations are done in colored pencil on a white background; Yum’s energetic art reflects the protagonist it portrays. “Though she be but little, she be fierce,” indeed. VERDICT A recommended purchase for libraries where Patty Lovell’s Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon is popular.–Tracy Cronce, Stevens Point Pub. Sch. District, WI

Luli and the language of tea-starred review


Luli and the Language of Tea.

By Andrea Wang. Illus. by Hyewon Yum
Apr. 2022. 40p. Holiday/Neal Porter, $18.99 (9780823446148). PreS–Gr. 2

Ten young children gather in a classroom for supervised play while their immigrant parents attend the ESL class next door. Since the children speak different languages, each is playing alone. But Luli, a Chinese American girl, has a plan. After unpacking a teapot, teacups, and tea leaves, she makes tea. When she calls out “Chá,” the children respond in their own languages (Russian, Hindi, Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Spanish, German, Swahili, and Portuguese) with their words for tea, which are amazingly similar to hers. Gathering at a circular table, they pass around cups of tea. Now Luli brings out a box and uses her new favorite English word, “Cookie?” Watching the children engage with one another, “Luli’s heart is full.” The author of Watercress (2021), 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 as this: “Hands curled around warm cups. Mouths curved into shy smiles.” Yum’s sensitive colored-pencil illustrations use clean lines, rounded shapes, and soft hues to depict the setting and reveal the characters’ emotions. The back matter introduces the 10 children, their countries of origin, and the place of tea in their cultures. A rewarding read-aloud choice.

— Carolyn Phelan

Luli in SLJ

WANG, Andrea. Luli and the Language of Tea. illus. by Hyewon Yum. 40p. Holiday House/Neal Porter. May 2022. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823446148. 
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