Candlewick has recently rolled out a new program called CHIRP: Candlewick's Handselling Indie Recognition Program. It is fantastic. Not only is it immensely flattering to have the work of Indies recognized and aided by a major publisher, but the fact that CHIRP really is helpful, is a huge bonus. We received a box of completed books from the Spring list with the intent that staff members who have not already done so, have the chance to look through, take something home and read it, and then handsell it our customers. There are little comment cards we can put into Candlewick books, saying things like, "Liked BOOK X? Try this one!"
And, if all that wasn't enough, I discovered a book on their list that I didn't already have in store, but needed to order immediately. I received a copy of this in the CHIRP box, read it, loved it, and am now sharing it with you.
Cloud Tea Monkeys
by Mal Peet & Elspeth Graham, illustrated by Juan Wijngaard
9780763644536, $15.99, Candlewick
This beautifully illustrated picture book is perfect for the 5-8 year-old child who is on the cusp of reading or can read by themselves, but still enjoys sharing picturebook storytime with an adult reader.
The tale is about a little girl named Tashi, who lives in a village at the foot of a mountain. The women of her village pick tea leaves every day, carrying heavy baskets under the burning sun. When Tashi's mother falls ill, Tashi worries if she can't pick the leaves, there will be no money for a doctor. Tashi carries the heavy basket, almost bigger than she is, and tries to pick the leaves herself. The mean overseer laughs at her and Tashi runs to the comfort of her monkey friends. She cries and tells them her problem and then, in the way of overtired children, falls asleep. During her sleep, the monkeys take her basket to the top of the mountain and fill it with tea leaves. When she drags the basket back to the overseer, His Excellency the Royal Tea Tester is there, looking to find a suitable tea for Her Majesty the Empress. Tashi's leaves make the most heavenly Cloud Tea. In return for one basket of cloud tea leaves once a year, Tashi is given a bag of gold. She gives fruits to the monkeys as thanks for their help, and she and her mother live happily ever after, drinking cloud tea.
The writing is lyrical storytelling, much nicer than my synopsis, with apt, descriptive analogies for everyone from the Overseer to the monkeys. Juan Wijngaard's illustrations are bordered, full-page illustrations that bring the storytelling to life. Additional spot illustrations on the side of each page with text enhance the overall beauty of this book. This is a perfect book to give as a gift, and one that can be enjoyed by many ages.