Ever since I can remember, my father had a thermos of hot tea with him. It sat on his desk when he was working, rolled around my feet in the car, and caused alarm when he tried to bring it through airport security after 9/11. (They made him pour it out. He was really unhappy about that. A six-hour flight without his tea!) Now I’m the one who drinks hot tea all day long — even when it’s 95 degrees outside.
So I’m thrilled to share the cover of my next picture book, LULI AND THE LANGUAGE OF TEA, which publishes on April 5, 2022 from Holiday House/Neal Porter Books. Here’s the description:
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.
While five-year-old Luli’s parents attend their new English as a Second Language class, the playroom where she goes 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.
And here’s the cover, by acclaimed artist Hyewon Yum!
I know I’m a tiny bit biased, but isn’t it the sweetest? I love Luli’s friendly, inviting expression. And the rest of the children in the playroom (their parents are all attending English as a Second Language classes in the same community center) are just as charming. Wouldn’t you like to share some tea with them?
For more info and to pre-order, click here.