“This book has everything: a text that brings the senses to life, tugged heartstrings, exquisite pictures – and cute monkeys.”

  • Shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal
  • English Association Primary Book awards – shortlist


  • Junior Library Guild selection.
  • Smithsonian Notable Children’s Books 2010     
  • The American Folklore Society Aesop Prize Accolade 2010    
  • Spring 2010 Kid’s Indie Next List
  • The New York Public Library 2010 list of 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
  • Book of the Year Award –  Silver
  • Cochecho Readers’ Award Winner (New Hampshire)
  • Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice  – finalist

AWARDS  and HONOURS (International)

  • Panda Book Awards – Middle Readers – shortlist

(International schools throughout China)


“Bringing India vividly alive, Mal Peet’s novel involves us in the life of Tashi, a girl whose mother picks tea. The story reveals the hardship and the beauty of the days, as the pickers work from the ‘’blue morning’’ in a light ‘’the colour of lemons’’, to the evening, when the sun is ‘’a blurred red globe’. The touching tale of Tashi’s relationship with ther mother and with a troupe of monkeys is enhanced by Juan Wijngaard’s evocative and sumptuous illustrations. Tashi’s encounter with a royal tea-picker leads to a triumph over the plantation’s cruel overseer and a happy ending, in a story that has both realism and a fairy-tale quality. Beautifully produced, the novel is an object to cherish and a tale to remember.”

The Sunday Times

Children’s Book of the Week

“Intricately told – with painstakingly detailed, radiant illustrations – this little treasure of a book is, naturally, best read at teatime.”

The Observer

“Beautiful though Juan Wijngaard’s vibrant illustrations are, Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham tell the story of Cloud Tea Monkeys so vividly that it could stand on its own.”

“This book has everything: a text that brings the senses to life, tugged heartstrings, exquisite pictures – and cute monkeys.”

The Sunday Telegraph

“This is a very beautiful book. The story, based on Himalayan tales collected by the authors, is illustrated with visionary-romantic paintings, in which sublime landscapes, imperial splendour and human misery are depicted in radiant detail.”

Books For Keeps****

“This heart-warming tale is told with assured sensitivity by Peet and Graham and complemented by lovely illustrations. Juan Wijngaard captures the different characters and the lush beauty of the Indian mountains’”

The Scotsman

“The stunning word pictures created by the two authors are beautifully partnered with glorious illustration. This story begs to be read aloud as there is such a musicality to the text. Highly recommended “

School Librarian

“The finely honed and poised narrative is matched by intricately detailed illustrations – rich colour paintings in formal frames (except at two significant junctures when they spill across the spread) and occasional black-and-white decorations. On top of this, excellent design and high production values (creamy paper with delicate motifs) ensure that this is an illustrated book of distinction. No half-measures here, nothing slick either, just everything considered and appropriate.”


In these days of a post-modern approach to many illustrated books, it can be refreshing to see a return to a more traditional approach, with a rich use of patterned language and painstaking care taken with illustrations that both support and extend the written text. Such a style is that which we enjoy in Cloud Tea Monkeys.”

“Vividly descriptive language transports us to an unfamiliar life and environment, imbued with a heady magic and yet tempered with the harsh realities of wresting a living from the land.”

English Association Best Books of 2010  (shortlisted)


“Simply and elegantly told, this story is lifted to Himalayan heights by the jewel-coloured, evocative illustrations which seem to rise from the page like steam from hot tea. Wijngaard’s sense of composition is flawless and while the majority of images are framed on one panel, others interplay beautifully with the text. On first arriving into the plantation, the monkeys gambol madly through the centre of the page while later a moment of tension is reflected suspensefully in a four panel strip. The characters’ personalities are palpable, and the overall result is a book to be tasted and savoured.”

INIS (IRELAND) Editor’s Choice


“This book is absolutely superb. The unique story line captures a number of important themes in economics, including the vulnerability of the working poor and the incidence of child labor in developing countries.  Stunning illustrations further add to the richness of Cloud Tea Monkeys, making this book as much of a treasure as the tea described within.”

Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children: Book of the Month March 2010

“A story inspired by Chinese legends comes to luminous life in the hands of Carnegie Medal–winner Peet (Tamar); his wife, Graham; and Greenaway Medalist Wijngaard (Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady). The authors’ richly descriptive tone sets the stage: “The sun had not yet found a way through the mountains, but it was coming; a light the color of lemons was soaking into the sky and painting out the stars.”’

“Unique and atmospheric, this tale freshly presents the karmic rewards of kindness.”

Publishers Weekly

“The tale has the feel of a time-honed fable—simple, elegant, and moving—which is especially well complemented by Wijngaard’s sumptuous illustrations.”

School Library Journal

“No design detail is overlooked, from the gorgeous cover (and its glossy, raised, curling, monkey-shaped tea steam) forward. Wijngaard’s elegant, exquisitely etched gouache-and-ink illustrations of both characters and landscapes are splashed across spreads or framed on cream-colored paper with subtle geometric borders. Unlike cloud tea, an accessible treasure.”
Kirkus Review (Starred Review)

“Juan Wijngaard’s illustrations in “Cloud Tea Monkeys” are stunning; you can see the very hairs on the monkeys’ bodies, and the indigo and violet of saris and turbans practically glow. Best of all is his series of small black-and-white drawings that show the immensely dignified tea taster appraising a first mouthful of cloud tea. We see the man swishing the wonderful stuff in his mouth with an expression both shrewd and reverent, before gently spitting it out, right off the page. Tashi is saved! With gold coins from the thrilled and grateful tea taster, her mother need never work again.”

Wall Street Journal     

“Peet and Graham’s polished narrative is carefully shaped and the fluid, piquant language (‘’Then the women came, their white headscarves glowing in the half-dark, their clothes bright patches of scarlet, green and indigo’’) makes it a natural choice for reading aloud…”

“Wijngaard’s elegant artwork (executed in ink and gouache) alternates between full-page or double-page paintings in color and monochromatic ink line drawings; both are executed with a polished clarity that never descends into stiffness. This will especially resonate with children whose families live on the economic edge, and the ‘’helpful monkey’’ solution is both pleasing fantastical and gratifying.”

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

American Folklore Society

Aesop Accolade 2010