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So Say the Little Monkeys Paperback – November 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Children will find much to relate to in this whimsical tale of a wild bunch of monkeys intent on having fun and easily distracted from more practical considerations. Drawn from a Brazilian folktale, Van Laan's (Little Fish, Lost) infectious rhyming text tells of the tiny monkeys ("blackmouths") who live along the Rio Negro in Brazil. Homeless wanderers, the blackmouths sleep in tall palm trees which, because of sharp thorns on their branches, are not the most comfortable resting places. Heo's (Pets!) pencil, oil and collage illustrations carry the childlike energy that has become her calling card. She illustrates the antics of the monkeys in a crazy quilt of offbeat hues: chartreuse, burnt orange, banana yellow and aqua. The primates cavort and dance among the thorns in pages that alternate between spreads and single-page illustrations. As in all folktales, there is an underlying cautionary lesson woven through the revels and sing-along soundings ("Plinka Plinka" when it rains, "Wooya Wooya" when the wind howls): sometimes it pays to plan for the storms and dangers that seem so distant when the sun is shining and calling little ones out to play. Ages 3-7.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 2-In this Brazilian folktale, a group of impractical little monkeys live alongside the black waters of a cool, dark river where they sing and play all day. At night it rains, "PLINKA PLINKA," and the wind blows, "WOOYA WOOYA," and the only available shelter is the uncomfortable, thorny branches of the tall trees. Shivering and crying, the monkeys vow to build themselves a home. Remarkably, it doesn't take much more than a bunch of ripe bananas and a sun shining brightly to keep these frisky fellows from their intended chore. In fact, these mischievously charming primates never do get around to completing their task; they're just too busy enjoying themselves. Stylishly drawn illustrations rendered in pencil, oil, and collage reflect the natural colors of the forest while maintaining a sense of animated glee. The rhyming text occasionally swings across a bright white page, keeping pace with the monkeys' unrestrained exuberance as "They swing, WHEEEE, over here./They swing, WHEEEE, over there./They sing, 'Jibba jibba jabba,'/ as they jump and run." An author's note states that the tale comes from the Indians who live along the Rio Negro in Brazil and was created to explain the unusual behavior of the "blackmouth" monkeys. A read-aloud delight with a repetitive text that supports beginning readers, this picture book is a guaranteed good time for all.
Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin; Reprint edition (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689846908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689846908
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.2 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Never mind the review that says this for age 3+. My 14 month old won't go to bed until we've read this at least three times. He's barely talking but he picks up the books and says "Whee!" And his older brother (age 4) chimes in with the "Jibba Jibba Jabba" every time!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 25, 2004
Format: Library Binding
The talents of the prolific Nancy Van Laan ("In a Circle Long Ago," and many others) and illustrator Yumi Heo ("Sometimes I'm Bombaloo") combine in this cheery retelling of a Brazilian folktale about blackmouth monkeys. The monkeys frolic through the Brazilian rainforest, swinging from vine to vine, and, most importantly, climbing the thorny tall trees:

Still they climb, UP-UP!
And they slide, Down-Down!
They sing, "Jibba-jibba-jabba."
swinging round and round

JUMP, JABBA JABBA,
RUN, JABBA JABBA,
SLIDE, JABBA JABBA,
Tiny monkeys having fun!

But these same trees keep them from having a comfortable home, unlike their neighbors the armadillo and the toucan. The monkeys SAY they're going to build a house, but fun and delicious things (e.g., bananas!) keep them from doing it!

The short rhymes and wonderful animal and nature sounds make this a very fun book to read out loud. The rhythms are musical, and the capitalized sounds (e.g., PLINKA PLINKA, WOOYA WOOYA, GURR-YUH GURR-YUH) are your cue to turn up the narrative volume for your little one. They'll eat it up. Slightly older toddlers may also enjoy the monkeys' priorities of fun and food over practicality. Yumi Heo has an unusual palette: I love the blues in her bubbling river and stormy sky. Her repetition of the playing monkeys nicely complements the repeated sounds of the text, and her flat, "folkish" drawings, filled with repeated designs and iconic imagery, evoke the teeming rainforest. The book was included in "The 3rd Edition of The New York Times Parent's Guide to the Best Books for Children." A simple but superb performance by van Laan and Heo.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. Garrison on July 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Both my three year old daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's rhyming verse is fun to read and the pictures are captivating. The actual story of how the carefree monkeys avoid making their night-time nests is light-hearted and amusing. My daughter and I borrowed this entertaining book from our local library. We liked it so well that I intend to buy it for her collection of favorites.
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By Splash on April 8, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It took me a while to be able to read this musically, but my daughter and I fell in love with it at the library and finally had to buy our own copy. These rainforest monkeys play and sing all day and never get around to making a nest. Very lovely language and cadence when read out loud.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just as expected. Thank you! My son heard this book at school but couldn't remember the title but we found it here and in great condition. Lifesavor!
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