CLOUD TEA MONKEYS
Authors: Mal Peet & Elspeth Graham
Suggested Year Group: Three
When Tashi’s mother falls ill she is no longer able to earn a living by picking tea. Tashi is faced with the impossible situation of needing to earn money for the doctor to come but not being able to reach the tender shoots. Cloud Tea Monkeys is a thought provoking read and children could discuss the issues faced by Tashi as she attempts to take care of her sick mother. The relationship between humans and animals is an important theme as well as the way in which people earn a living.
Rationale for selection
The tale is brought to life by the sumptuous illustrations which support the reader’s understanding of the characters. A wonderful read aloud but with plenty of scope for guided reading to explore aspects of characterisation and the themes of the story.
Points for discussion
Discuss the title.
- What do you think Cloud Tea Monkeys are?
- What does the name mean?
- Do you know how tea gets to us?
Read the opening page.
- How does Tashi’s morning routine compare to yours?
- What do you learn about Tashi’s life?
- What does the illustration tell you?
- How do the Overseer and women feel about the monkeys when they come down into the plantation?
- What evidence can you find for this?
- Why are they not welcome and why do you think Tashi follows them?
- She doesn't seem to be afraid – why?
Compare the illustration of the monkeys coming down to the plantation and the following page where Tashi is sitting with them.
- Do the monkeys seem different?
When Tashi’s mother is sick she cannot work and will not be paid. They need money to pay for a doctor.
- What happens when people are too sick to work in the UK?
- When do you think this story takes place?
Tashi’s aunt doesn’t help her when the Overseer is cruel to her.
- Why not?
- How does the Overseer behave to his employees?
- Why is he like this?
Spend some time looking at the illustration of the Royal Tea Taster with the Overseer.
- What can you tell about the two men from the picture?
- Why do the monkeys help Tashi?
- Have they picked these leaves before?
- Where do you think the Royal Tea Taster found cloud tea before?
- Is there a moral to this story?
- What do you think it is?
Copyright: Just Imagine Story Centre Ltd
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