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Monkey Island Paperback – March 1, 1993


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Paperback, March 1, 1993
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 830L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling (March 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440407702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440407706
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fox ( The Village by the Sea ) has written a quietly terrifying, wholly compelling novel about the urban homeless, filtered through the experience of an 11-year-old boy. Clay's middle-class existence begins to shred when his art-director father loses his job and, eventually, his connection to his wife and child. He leaves without a word one day, and Clay and his pregnant mother end up in a welfare hotel, a place "where people in trouble waited for something better--or worse--to happen to them." And happen it does, for Clay's mother soon disappears as well, and Clay takes to the streets, to be befriended by two homeless men and reunited with his mother only after great tribulation. Once again Fox displays her remarkable ability to render life as seen by a sensitive child who has bumped up against harsh circumstances. Her understanding of Clay is keenly empathic and intuitive, and it seems near-total: she is as finely attuned to the small, surprising eddies of his thoughts as to their larger and more obvious stream. It is precisely this attention to the quiet, easily lost insight that gives her account its veracity and force. For example, one night Clay and a friend break into a church basement, and Clay spies a bulletin board. He is "faintly surprised. I can read, he thought"--a small jolt that shows us just how far from the world of school and homework he has traveled. Fox neither preaches about nor attempts to soften the stark realities of the life that is, temporarily, thrust upon Clay. Clear-eyed and unblinking as ever, she shows us the grit, misery and despair of the homeless, along with occasional qualified, but nonetheless powerful redemptive moments--the sharing of an apple or kind word by those with little to spare; for Clay, the bright smile of his newborn sister. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-7-- Eleven-year-old Clay Garrity's family had been what most people would consider an average family--until the magazine his father worked for went out of business and he couldn't find another job over the next year. Clay then experienced the gradual decline from that normal existence to one of abandonment by his father, the move to a welfare hotel and, at the beginning of the story, the disappearance of his mother who, with the added burden of a difficult pregnancy, is unable to cope with the daily struggle for survival. Clay eventually comes to a small park scornfully called "Monkey Island" for the homeless who live there. Here he is taken in by two men who share the wooden crate that offers them some shelter from the cold November winds. These three become a sort of family, holding on to some sense of humanity in a brutal and brutalizing world. For all of its harshness, Monkey Island is also a romanticized view of the world. Although Clay is not spared the hunger, fear, illness, and squalor of the streets, there is still a distancing from the more immediate types of violence that exist there. He is always on the edge of such danger, but no incidents actually touch him. In the end, it is pneumonia that brings him back into the social services system. After ten days in the hospital, the boy is placed in a foster home and shortly thereafter is reunited with his mother and baby sister in a conclusion that readers desire but that may strain credibility. This is a carefully crafted, thoughtful book, and one in which the flow of language both sustains a mood of apprehension and encourages readers to consider carefully the plight of the homeless, recognizing unique human beings among the nameless, faceless masses most of us have learned not to see. --Kay E. Vandergrift, School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 3, 1997
Format: Paperback
I am so thankful that I found this book. I read it in one sitting and am looking forward to sharing it with my 6th-graders. Many of my students are only a few steps away from Clay's street hut. It is for them that I want to shed a light of hope. I think this book can help me do that for them. It is also a great book to read to children who have what they need to stay warm and well-fed. It will afford them the opportunity to get to know someone their age that must go without and take chances that have very uncertain outcomes.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michele Slavinski on October 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
Paula Fox does an amazing job depicting homelessness in her book Monkey Island. Clay Garrity, an eleven year old boy, is left to fend for himself after his pregnant mother disappears. He meets two homeless men, Buddy and Calvin, who become his new family on the street. They care for him as best they can but the cold and lack of food are too much for Clay and he has to be taken to a hosiptal. Now he has to depend on Social Services to find out what happened to his mother and his new sibling.
I thought that Fox's description of Clay's life on the street was exceptional. Her language really flowed nicely and I felt like I was experiencing what Clay was. Fox also had the major dramatic question, "What happened to Clay's mother?". This question was the driving force while I read this book. I was so intrigued that I finished the book in one sitting.
The only problem I had with this book was the ending. I didn't think it was realistic. Fox had all of these well portrayed, complex issues throughout the book and the ending just seemed very simplistic compared to everything else.
However, overall I really enjoyed this book. I thought that it was well written, that language flowed together, and that it provided a realistic look at what life would be like on the streets.
I think this book would be a great tool to help teachers to portray homelessness and/or poverty to their students. This book would really force children to look at and understand the social problems that our society has and help them to relate to, and sympathize with, these problems.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "witch-baby" on July 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read this book when I was about eleven or twelve, and at seventeen it still sticks out as one of the most powerful books of my childhood. Very few young adult books capture the beauty and the pain that Monkey Island does. So many young adult novels are pure fluff. Monkey Island, however, deals with a topic very serious: homelessness. By using an eleven year old boy as the main character, it made being homeless seem more personal and real. I recommend this book entirely to pre-teens, teens, or even adults. It is a wonderful story that truly has no age range.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
Monkey Island is a novel which presents issues of homelessness in many layers. Communities on the street are shown as sometimes being safer than indoor shelters. Social service agencies are given their share of criticism and praise, with the truth that their effectiveness often depends on the roll of the dice that is which case worker a child or family has. Through it all, Clay guides us on his perilous journey quietly and perceptively. Monkey Island raises more question than it answers, which is very appropriate for the young audience who will encounter it. They need not be given pat responses to complex social problems and this novel forces reflection and hopefully in some, positive action.
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Format: Paperback
This is a book that must be read by every child to fully appreciate his/her life. Children fall in love with Clay and continue reading the book to see if he finally gets a warm coat and a soft bed to sleep in. Pair this book with Jerry Spinelli's Maniac Magee and you have so much to talk, think, and write about .. Only Paula Fox can write an enriching encounter with homelessnesss and make the subject come alive. While her tone is dismal, the students say, "I love her book and hate the book" at the same time. Until you've read it, only then will you understand. P.S. Hint for teachers:These two books make reading, discussing, and writing come alive in your classroom. Offers endless discussions and writing ideas!
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By A Customer on March 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read Monkey Island for a book report I had to do. The book is about a boy named Clay who ends all by himself on street. He finnaly ends up meeting Buddy and Calvin who try to help him. Buddy soon gets sick with pneomnia. He is hospitalized for several days. Once they (hospital) find that he is not with his parents they end up trying to find a foster family for him and in suceed in doing so. Once Clay is with his foster family they also find his mother in which Clay goes to live with. This is a great story about life and why you should appreciate it every single day. This is in regard to the paperback edition.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
I don't really like non fiction books, but this one was okay. I liked how at the end it ended up happy and he even saw Buddy again. I didn't like how in the first chapter it was confusing because it kept flashing back from the past to the present. I would recomend it to a friend who would want to know about homelessness and likes books where the story could really happen. That is my review of Monkey Island C.B.Fox
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