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Tea with Milk

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  1,037 Ratings  ·  165 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published 1999 by Walter Lorraine Books
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Jan 25, 2009 Lynne rated it really liked it
In Tea with milk, Allen Say speaks eloquently about the cross cultural conflict between traditional Japanese values and American values.

Using his trademark beautiful watercolor images to support the text, Say tells the story of a young girl, May, who was raised in San Francisco but moves to Japan with her mother and father who are returning home. Young May struggles to find her place in her parents’ home and finally makes a friend who is enduring a similar struggle. Say surprises readers with a
Tea with Milk is an eloquent look at the struggle to live in two worlds. May grew up in America, but her parents always maintained old-world Japanese values. When they decide to move back to their homeland, May finds herself out of place and homesick for America. Her journey to find where she belongs is inspiring and ultimately speaks to perseverance, being true to one's self, and striking a balance between traditional and modern values.

I think one of the reasons this story was so engaging was
Published in 1999 by Houghton Mifflin/Walter Lorraine Books
Interest Level: 5th-8th Grade

The story of Allen Say's mother is a compelling, heartfelt story about immigration, culture-clashes, assimilation, and the meaning of "home". Through the depictions of May otherwise known as Masako and her cross-cultural experiences, the reader is transported to another time period and culture where being an independent woman was a much more difficult task than imagined. Contrasting with Say's "Grandfather's
Karli Eller
Sep 05, 2015 Karli Eller rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
What is it like to feel like you do not belong? To stick out? To be ripped from your birthplace and forced to adapt to a new country, a new culture and new people? These questions and more are answered in Allen Say’s phenomenal book Tea with Milk.

Every year my class has numerous students whose family originated from another country. Now these students will be the experts, being able to explain how it feels to be the new one, adapting to new rules and customs, a new language and way of life. They
Shannon Collyer
Dec 01, 2012 Shannon Collyer rated it it was amazing

Masako was born in California. All of her California friends called her May. One day, May’s parents decided they were homesick and wanted to move back to Japan. This was devastating for May, in Japan, she had to wear kimonos, take high school again, and drink her tea with out milk. Her parents tried to console her and even attempted to arrange a marriage to a nice banker for her, but May would have none of it. She missed the hustle and bustle of the city. She finally found what she had been look
Jan 25, 2015 Mike rated it really liked it
Allen Say tells the tale of May and American born girl forced to move back to Japan with her parents after she graduated from high school. She immediately faced a cultural backlash when she arriver. Her parents wanted her to become something she was not willing to become. In an attempt to break free May moved to the city of Osaka and began to work at a department store. The story of her finding her independence while fitting into the traditional Japanese culture evolves when she finds love after ...more
Mar 06, 2015 Kelli rated it really liked it
Tea With Milk follows a young woman stuck between the Japanese and American cultures of what appears to be the late 1920s. Masako, who prefers her American name May, is reluctantly taken back to Japan by her Japanese born parents. She hates the men her parents arrange for her, she hates the traditional arts she's forced to learn, and she resents having no one to connect with. She runs away to Osaka to work as a lowly elevator operator. However, eventually her talents set her on a path towards ha ...more
Jan 26, 2010 Samantha rated it really liked it
This book was very eye opening for me. Consider feeling like an outsider in a place where people assume you should fit in. This book would help someone feel as though they were not alone in feeling like a cultural outsider. The story and the images balanced each other well. The illustrations held a lot of emotion in their stillness. I also felt that the complex feelings of being an outsider would be accessible to anyone reading this book. It could help children get a better understanding that pe ...more
I actually read this book before the other Say book I have just reviewed. I like this one, but it didn't fascinate me as much as Drawing from Memory. The art work is great, though, and I continue to be surprised at how much I actually like it. It is sort of like the Japanese gardens we visited in Kyoto and Tokyo. I was pretty sure I would find them boring and repetitive, but instead found them surprisingly appealing and engaging.
Emma G
Feb 11, 2011 Emma G rated it it was amazing
It was a spontaneous book of ironic "Deja vu". A little Japanese american goes to Japan at a young age and doesn't feel at home at all, even though her parents are happy. Eventually, she learns to work in Japan,in which many women don't work at all! Since she speaks English, she finds a nice job based off and can support herself. This is her emotional story, rewritten to be a classic.
Jul 07, 2014 Rodolfo rated it really liked it
A lovely,melancholy reflection on what makes a home. Biography-as-fiction as an exercise in honoring parents/ancestors.
Nov 04, 2016 Marmot rated it really liked it
Got this from the library, we really enjoyed this book that dealt with perceptions of "old japan" versus the modern reality. Lovely illustrations!
Mashu Wezasu
Oct 16, 2016 Mashu Wezasu rated it really liked it
Hilarious portrait of Masako - her blatant discomfort, adorned in kimono.
Apr 19, 2012 Bree rated it really liked it
Masako (May) is a young Japanese girl. Her parent speak Japanese. At home they eat rice and drink tea. However, at her friend's house she eats pancakes, muffins, and she had tea with milk and sugar. When she graduated from high school May wanted to go to college but her parents wouldn't allow it. They were homesick and decided to move back to Japan. May was used to the Americas though. She missed people calling her May, and there were no more pancakes, muffins, or tea with milk and sugar. To mak ...more
Camille Tesch
Sep 27, 2016 Camille Tesch marked it as to-read
Japan ages 6-8
Amy Yount
Mar 06, 2016 Amy Yount rated it really liked it
(Chapter 7 recommended reading)

Book Review
May, the protagonist, is a first generation American whose parents are native-born Japanese immigrants. The time span of the book is from May’s early childhood through adulthood and marriage. At the beginning of the story, young May and her family live in San Francisco. Even though May cannot participate in the events in the city, she finds comfort and regularity in the noises and sites of the city life. She goes to an American school and is allowed to
Xiaohui Yang
Feb 08, 2013 Xiaohui Yang rated it liked it
Tea With Milk took shape out of the real experiences and feelings from Say’s mother. When May’s parents decided to return to Japan, as an American daughter, “She did not want to leave the only home she had ever known. (p. 6)” “Once they arrived in Japan, she felt even worse. (p. 6)” Nothing seemed “right” for her. “No one called her May, and Masako sounded like someone else’s name. (p. 6)” She lost herself in this new country. “I’ll never get used to this place, she thought with a heavy heart. ( ...more
Jan 29, 2011 Leane rated it really liked it
"Tea With Milk" is the story of a young Japanese American girl named May who grows up in America. She experiences both Japanese and American culture as she eats rice and drinks green tea for breakfast at home and eats pancakes and drinks tea with milk at her friends' houses. When now eighteen-year-old May's parents decide to return to Japan, May finds herself immersed in a totally new culture where she is made to wear an uncomfortable kimono, practice calligraphy, and settle for skipping college ...more
Rosemary Sullivan
Oct 14, 2013 Rosemary Sullivan rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
This book by Allen Say is a heartfelt tribute to the struggles of his mother. As a little girl growing up in California she is caught between two cultures. Her parents, who are Japanese immigrants, call her Ma-chan,a nickname for Masako, and speak Japanese in the home. They eat rice and miso soup and green tea for breakfast. But everyone else calls her May and when she visits friends they eat pancakes, muffins and tea with milk and sugar.

After she graduates high school, her homesick parents deci
Emily Calzi
Tea with Milk by Allen Say shows the differences between Japanese and American culture. At home a young girl named May, eats miso soup and drinks tea. At her friends house she eats pancakes, spaghetti, and fried chicken. She loves San Francisco and wants to someday live in her own apartment and go to college. However, this dream is suddenly put to a halt when her parents become homesick and decide to move back to Japan. There she is called, Masako, which is her Japanese name. She hates having to ...more
Gabrielle Blockton
Sep 30, 2014 Gabrielle Blockton rated it really liked it
Date: September 30th, 2014

Author: Allen Say

Title: Tea With Milk

Plot: In Allen Say's picture-book, Masako, a Japanese-American girl grows up loving American things, including tea with milk and sugar. When she is in high school, her parents become homesick and move back to Japan, where she must adapt to the Japanese culture of wearing kimonos and sitting on the floor until her legs are numb. She misses her American life everyday and feels like a foreigner in her parents country. Will Masako learn
Jordan Caton
Oct 27, 2011 Jordan Caton rated it it was amazing
This book is my book for Asian/Pacific group. I really enjoyed reading this story. It is told from May's daughters point of view, but you do not find that out until the last page. May was born and raised in the United States. She was adopted but when her birth mother wants to move back to Japan, May feels like a foreigner, and others see her as that as well as they call her "Gaijin." She is different from the others in that country because she is used to the USA's way of life. She wants to work ...more
Dec 07, 2016 Colleen rated it really liked it
Masako grew up in San Francisco but moved to Japan when she was sixteen because her parents decided they wanted to go back home. This upset Masako because America was the only home she had ever known. We read of Masako's struggles in Japan to adjust to both the language and the culture, until she later finds a job she enjoys and meets a man who also speaks English.

Allen Say beautifully illustrates and writes this story. At the end, readers discover he is sharing the story of his mother and how
Mar 24, 2011 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
As I was reading this story, it seemed so familiar, as if I had read it before. Perhaps I have; my memory is not perfect. But what I think triggered the memory was the fact that I had also read Grandfather's Journey, which is a nice companion to this book. The illustrations are wonderful and I love that Allen Say put so much of his family's history into his stories. The story was filled with mixed emotions and conflicting desires, which is pretty complex for a children's picture book. I love tha ...more
Ashleigh Pollard
May grew up in America, but her parents maintained the traditional values of there Japanese culture. Eventually May and her family move back to Japan and May tells of her struggles feeling like she is caught between both worlds. May finds herself out of place and is homesick for San Francisco. She is not used to the Japanese way of living and does not feel accepted. What makes this story so appealing is the illustrations that go along with the text. The images of may and her family are presented ...more
I really enjoyed this book about a young Japanese girl, May (Masako was her Japanese name) in San Francisco. When she had graduated from high school, her parents decided to return to Japan because they missed their old country and they were tired of being foreigners. Interestingly enough, when they moved back to Japan May was now the foreigner and was not readily accepted by her peers. Her mother insisted she attend high school again so that she could learn Japanese and the culture. However, eve ...more
Alexandria Hiam
I really enjoyed this book about a young Japanese girl, May (Masako was her Japanese name) in San Francisco. When she had graduated from high school, her parents decided to return to Japan because they missed their old country and they were tired of being foreigners. Interestingly enough, when they moved back to Japan May was now the foreigner and was not readily accepted by her peers. Her mother insisted she attend high school again so that she could learn Japanese and the culture. However, eve ...more
Katia Sotelo
Oct 30, 2016 Katia Sotelo rated it it was ok
Tea with Milk is sort of a continuation from Grandfather's Journey only that this time the story is focused on Say's mother. You see her growing up and her struggles whereas in Grandfather's Journey she's vaguely spoke of as a little girl. The book describes the conflict that comes with culture-crash and with "living in two different worlds." When the family moves from California back to Japan, Say's mother feels like a stranger and people keep calling her foreigner even though Japan is on her r ...more
Oct 01, 2014 Rll52014_mollyharris rated it really liked it
Shelves: mc-literature
Tea with Milk tells the story of Masako (May), a Japanese American girl who moves from America to Japan just as she is about to finish high school in America. Her parents have decided that they are tired of feeling like foreigners in America and that the best thing for their family will be to return to Japan. Ironically, Masako does not like her new life in Japan as she is labeled a "gaijin" (foreigner) for not knowing how to speak Japanese. Masako's efforts to make her own way in Japan shape th ...more
Feb 24, 2015 Jamie rated it it was amazing
May is given a rude awakening and a healthy dose of culture shock when her traditionally-minded parents move the family from San Francisco back to Japan. While her home life was built around her parents' nostalgia for the Japan they grew up in, she had grown up among American friends and their families and was more comfortable in this culture than the alien one she finds herself dropped into. She is called Masako and has to wear kimonos and sit on the floor and put up with dates arranged by prof ...more
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Allen Say is one of the most beloved artists working today. He is the recipient of the Caldecott Medal for GRANDFATHER'S JOURNEY, and also won a Caldecott Honor and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for THE BOY OF THE THREE-YEAR NAP (written by Dianne Snyder). Many of Allen’s stories are derived from his own experiences as a child. His other books include THE BICYCLE MAN, TEA WITH MILK, and TREE OF ...more
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