________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 3. . . .September 17, 2010


The Littlest Monkey.

Sarah E. Turner.
Winlaw, BC: Sono Nis Press, 2010.
32 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55039-174-9.

Subject Heading:
Macaques-Juvenile literature.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

**** /4



The two little monkeys watch through the glass at the Monkey Center. Inside, a little girl and her mother fill large buckets with grain and sweet potato.

“Which one is Sunny?” the little girl asks her mother.

“The two-year-old with the sunshine coat,” says her mother. “And next to her is her little brother, Tombo.”

“Tombo, dragonfly,”says the little girl. “Yes, I know that one. He’s an imp!”

First-hand research, an appealing setting, first-rate photography and the desire to bring a universal message to young readers: this winning combination led to primatologist Sarah Turner’s creation of a delightful picture book. Years of research at the Awaji Island Monkey Center (home for free-ranging monkeys that live in the wild but are fed by people), and, in particular, observations of mother/baby relationships form the basis for this story of Tombo, a Japanese macaque who suddenly finds he’s not the littlest one in the family when the new baby monkey takes his mother’s attention. As Tombo learns to accept his new status, the reader will discover fascinating facts about his home and habits.

internal art     Winsome faces with mesmerizing amber eyes draw the reader into Tombo’s world. The animated photos are displayed to spill across double page spreads in many cases to share the daily activities of the monkey families. The well-integrated and engaging text is presented in small chunks. The book is a great read-aloud. Young listeners will enjoy following the routine as monkeys respond to feeding calls, chase and wrestle in the tree branches, and greet peanut handouts from visitors to the center. In the final pages, empathy for Tombo grows as he finds his mother preoccupied with feeding a new baby. His displays of temper are ignored, and he seeks solace with his sister until new baby Momoko is ready to respond to his overtures of brotherly love. Such is the way with all youngsters as their place in the family unit evolves.

      This charming story will satisfy the reader’s need for both knowledge and a comforting message. A page of facts about Japanese macaques completes the book.

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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