Every summer I get lost in books. Sometimes there is one that sticks with me for a long time. A very long time. This summer I read Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls. I can’t let go of the words, the feeling, the pictures in my head (just like I tell my preschoolers).
Whenever I read a new book, first I flip to the back cover to read about the author and the illustrator. Wilson Rawls wrote a classic, Where the Red Fern Grows. He grew up in the Midwest, and he did not have access to books until he was in high school. I was stunned. His writing is fluid. His words are a quiver of arrows, shot to the heart.
Jay Berry Lee and his family move to Oklahoma at the end of the nineteenth century. Life is good, full of hard work and the beauty of the land. Jay Berry and his dog discover some monkeys in a nearby river bottom, and the story takes off. Oh, how it takes off. I did not expect to be pulled in. Yet, I was on the farm. With the dog. And especially with Grandpa.
Have you ever read one line, one statement in a book, that knocked you off your feet? This one from Summer of the Monkeys did just that:
“It was the inside of my grandpa that really counted. He had a heart as big as a number four washtub; and inside that wrinkled old hide of his was enough boy-understanding for all the boys in the world.”
Words are magic, aren’t they? The take us to places, make us understand, make us laugh and cry. When words are well crafted, they leave a ‘forever’ mark. E.B. White’s words do that. Kate DiCamillo’s words do that. So do Wilson Rawls’ words.
If you love boys and dogs, Grandpas, incredible adventures, and one of the best stories written, I recommend Summer of the Monkeys.