Cover image for Tea with milk
Title:
Tea with milk
Author:
Say, Allen.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1999.
Physical Description:
32 pages : color illustrations ; 28 cm
Summary:
After growing up near San Francisco, a young Japanese woman returns with her parents to their native Japan, but she feels foreign and out of place.
General Note:
"Walter Lorraine books."
Language:
English
Reading Level:
AD 450 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.7 0.5 31102.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.5 2 Quiz: 19366 Guided reading level: O.
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780395904954
Format :
Book

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PIC BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
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Summary

Summary

At home in San Francisco, May speaks Japanese and the family eats rice and miso soup and drinks green tea. When she visits her friends' homes, she eats fried chicken and spaghetti. May plans someday to go to college and live in an apartment of her own. But when her family moves back to Japan, she soon feels lost and homesick for America. In Japan everyone calls her by her Japanese name, Masako. She has to wear kimonos and sit on the floor. Poor May is sure that she will never feel at home in this country. Eventually May is expected to marry and a matchmaker is hired. Outraged at the thought, May sets out to find her own way in the big city of Osaka. With elegant watercolors reminiscent of Grandfather's Journey, Allen Say has created a moving tribute to his parents and their path to discovering where home really is. The accompanying story of his mother and her journey as a young woman is heartfelt. Vividly portraying the graceful formality of Japan, Tea with Milk effectively captures th


Author Notes

Allen Say was born in 1937 in Yokohama, Japan and grew up during the war, attending seven different primary schools amidst the ravages of falling bombs. His parents divorced in the wake of the end of the war and he moved in with his maternal grandmother, with whom he did not get along with. She eventually let him move into a one room apartment, and Say began to make his dream of being a cartoonist a reality. He was twelve years old.

Say sought out his favorite cartoonist, Noro Shinpei, and begged him to take him on as an apprentice. He spent four years with Shinpei, but at the age of 16 moved to the United States with his father. Say was sent to a military school in Southern California but then expelled a year later. He struck out to see California with a suitcase and twenty dollars. He moved from job to job, city to city, school to school, painting along the way, and finally settled on advertising photography and prospered. Say's first children's book was done in his photo studio, between shooting assignments. It was called "The Ink-Keeper's Apprentice" and was the story of his life with Noro Shinpei. After this, he began to illustrate his own picture books, with writing and illustrating becoming a sort of hobby. While illustrating "The Boy of the Three-year Nap" though, Say suddenly remembered the intense joy I knew as a boy in my master's studio and decided to pursue writing and illustrating full time.

Say began publishing books for children in 1968. His early work, consisting mainly of pen-and-ink illustrations for Japanese folktales, was generally well received; however, true success came in 1982 with the publication of The Bicycle Man, based on an incident in Say's life. "The Boy of the Three-Year Nap" published in 1988, and written by Dianne Snyder, was selected as a 1989 Caldecott Honor Book and winner of The Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for best picture book.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-8. On the title page of Say's new picture book, there is a small frame from his Caldecott-winning Grandfather's Journey (1993), a picture of his mother, Masako, as a Japanese American child in California. Say tells her immigrant story: how, when she finished high school in California, her restless, homesick father took the family back to live in his village in Japan. Masako becomes a foreigner in her parents' country, longing for home in San Francisco. Instead of college, she has to go back to high school to learn Japanese. She must learn to be a "proper" Japanese lady. Say's watercolors are quieter in line and color this time, and the text is much longer. Together, they tell an elemental story that will appeal to everyone who feels a stranger at home. The pictures of Masako show her sad and wooden, bound up in a kimono, kneeling on the floor, or walking alone in the empty schoolyard. In a climactic scene, she sits fuming on a park bench next to the stuffy banker with whom an arranged marriage is planned. When she rebels and breaks away, the bright red color of her fitted dress is as startling to us as to the staring villagers. Like many foreigners everywhere, she discovers her home in the city, where she finds work, opportunity, and a husband from an even more diverse background than her own. They speak English ("at last, a real conversation"); they drink their tea with milk and sugar; and when their son, Allen, is born, they speak English to each other and Japanese to him. Both an "ugly duckling" romance and a universal story of leaving home, this is a picture book that will have intense appeal for older readers. (Reviewed March 15, 1999)0395904951Hazel Rochman


Publisher's Weekly Review

Say's masterfully executed watercolors tell as much of this story about a young woman's challenging transition from America to Japan as his eloquent, economical prose. Raised near San Francisco, Masako (her American friends called her May) is uprooted after high school when her parents return to their Japanese homeland. In addition to repeating high school to learn Japanese, she must learn the arts of a "proper Japanese lady"Äflower arranging, calligraphy and the tea ceremonyÄand is expected to marry well. Declaring "I'd rather have a turtle than a husband," the independent-minded Masako heads for the city of Osaka and gets a job in a department store. With his characteristic subtlety, Say sets off his cultural metaphor from the very start, contrasting the green tea Masako has for breakfast in her home, with the "tea with milk and sugar" she drinks at her friends' houses in America. Later, when she meets a young Japanese businessman who also prefers tea with milk and sugar to green tea, readers will know that she's met her match. Say reveals on the final page that the couple are his parents. Whether the subject is food ("no more pancakes or omelets, fried chicken or spaghetti" in Japan) or the deeper issues of ostracism (her fellow students call Masako "gaijin"Äforeigner) and gender expectations, Say provides gentle insights into human nature as well as East-West cultural differences. His exquisite, spare portraits convey emotions that lie close to the surface and flow easily from page to reader: with views of Masako's slumping posture and mask-like face as she dons her first kimono, or alone in the schoolyard, it's easy to sense her dejection. Through choice words and scrupulously choreographed paintings, Say's story communicates both the heart's yearning for individuality and freedom and how love and friendship can bridge cultural chasms. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

K-Gr 6-When her Japanese-born parents leave America for their homeland, an independent girl reluctantly follows and melds her experience and her heritage to find a new meaning for the word "home." This perfect marriage of artwork and text offers readers a window into a different place and time. (May) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 6-Continuing the story he started in Grandfather's Journey (Houghton, 1993), Say explores familiar themes of cultural connection and disconnection. He focuses on his mother Masako, or May, as she prefers to be called, who, after graduating from high school in California, unwillingly moves with her parents to their native Japan. She is homesick for her native country and misses American food. She rebels against her parents, who force her to repeat high school so that she can learn "her own language"; the other students tease her for being "gaijin" or a foreigner. Masako leaves home and obtains a job in a department store in Osaka, a city that reminds her of her beloved San Francisco. Her knowledge of English quickly makes her a valued employee and brings her into contact with her future husband, Joseph, a Japanese man who was educated at an English boarding school in Shanghai. They decide that together they can make a life anywhere, and choose to remain in Japan. Say's many fans will be thrilled to have another episode in his family saga, which he relates with customary grace and elegance. The pages are filled with detailed drawings featuring Japanese architecture and clothing, and because of the artist's mastery at drawing figures, the people come to life as authentic and sympathetic characters. This is a thoughtful and poignant book that will appeal to a wide range of readers, particularly our nation's many immigrants who grapple with some of the same challenges as May and Joseph, including feeling at home in a place that is not their own.-Ellen Fader, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.