Summer of the Monkeys

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.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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56 Responses to Summer of the Monkeys

  1. Plot Monster says:

    My 6th grade teacher read this to us. Still love this book and I am planning to read to my kids. Thanks for sharing your review.

  2. MC Clark says:

    I haven’t heard of this book, but I’ll definitely check it out.
    Thanks, Jennie. 🙂

  3. I remember “Where The Red Fern Grows” but had not heard of this one. Too many book, too little time. I’ll look for it. Thanks.

    • Jennie says:

      I know what you mean, Marlene. Summer is when I have more time to read. I wish there were more hours in the day. I had only heard of Where the Red Fern Grows, too. This one is outstanding.

  4. Darlene says:

    Love the excerpt. Sounds like a memorable book.

  5. beetleypete says:

    You picked a fine quote, Jennie. I seem to fit the ‘target market for this one’. Dog, Grandpa, and Grandson. This is one for when he’s a little older.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  6. Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Check out the book, Summer of Monkeys, by Wilson Rawls, as recommended in this post on A Teacher’s Reflection blog.

  7. The only kid I can read this too is me and that’s what I shall do!

  8. Dan Antion says:

    That sounds like a nice recommendation – excellent review, Jennie.

  9. Words are magical indeed! And I know exactly the feeling you so beautifully described, Jennie. 😄And thanks for the tip, I will make sure to put it on my reading list! 😄

  10. This does sound wonderful. I’m going to see if it’s available at my local library.

  11. marciadid says:

    Thank you for the recommendation. I’ve added to my “want to read” list. 😊

  12. John Fioravanti says:

    Thanks for the tip, Jennie!

  13. This sounds like a marvellous story, Jennie. I am going to order it right away.

  14. Words as magical as grandpas. 🙂 Thanks for a lovely review, Jennie. Hugs on the wing!

  15. Lebana says:

    This looks great.Thanks for sharing,Jennie.

  16. Grayson Hugh says:

    Your description of how books take us into their worlds, and how certain combinations of words by writers can resonate in you forever, is so very, very true.

  17. reocochran says:

    This was one that a sixth grader read and did a fine book report on, when I was a half year sub at a middle school for Language Arts teacher. (early ’90’s)
    It fascinated me, wondering if fantasy had somehow merged with realistic fiction, Jennie. 😀

    • Jennie says:

      It seems like it could be fantasy, and perhaps that’s what makes a sixth grader want to read the book. Then, they discover it is realistic fiction. And they get a big dose of life learning, too. Sigh! 🙂

  18. That quote is so rich with love, Jennie. Love it. The book sounds wonderful. Happy Reading. 🙂

  19. Oh God, Jennie I love this! And it is amazing how a few sentences in a good book can go right into our hearts!! That excerpt certainly did. Thank you for sharing, reminded me how much I love to read fiction. And I swear I remember Where the Red Fern Grows, though I can’t place it right now.
    Bless you Jennie! And love to your kids…. I really enjoyed this post. Debbie

  20. Words are magic indeed.

  21. arsenios says:

    Your description of how books exact us into their worlds, and how certain(p) combinations of words by writers can resonate in you forever, is so very, very true(p). It really is awesome how knock-down(a) words can be.

  22. I’ve known about this book for years but never really heard anyone talk about it, about how good it is. Thanks for doing so, it’s going on my to-read list!

  23. ren says:

    “Where the Red Fern Grows” Saw the movie, loved it. Know the book is better. Summer of Monkeys is a book I will need to check out. Thanx!
    Speaking of incredible journeys…. you ever read “The Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfield?
    Wonderful adventure/journey in Peru, which became a series. I started the reads in the late 1990’s. 😀 In fact, those writings were a HUGE early threshold, to my current life journey.

  24. Reblogged this on Notes from An Alien and commented:
    Today’s re-blog goes back to last summer—for those freezing in the northern hemisphere…

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