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Never Smile at a Monkey: And 17 Other Important Things to Remember Hardcover – October 19, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Product Description
When it comes to wild animals, everyone knows that there are certain things you just don't do. It's clearly a bad idea to tease a tiger, pull a python's tail, or bother a black widow spider. But do you know how dangerous it can be to pet a platypus, collect a cone shell, or touch a tang fish? Some creatures have developed unusual ways of protecting themselves or catching prey, and this can make them unexpectedly hazardous to your health. In this dynamic and fascinating picture book by Steve Jenkins, you'll find out what you should never do if you encounter one of these surprisingly dangerous animals.



A Look Inside Never Smile at a Monkey
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Harmless looking creatures Never pet a platypus Never collect a cone shell



From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 1–4—A visually stunning book illustrated with cut paper and torn collages. Jenkins's introductory warnings are gently alliterative: "NEVER pet a platypus"; "NEVER touch a tang." The gentleness stops there, however. "NEVER jostle a jellyfish. A box jellyfish, that is. Most jellyfish can sting people, but….If you are unlucky enough to become really entangled with a box jellyfish, you can die very quickly." Readers may enjoy staring deadly danger in the face, knowing that it is distant and rare. They'll also be treated to fascinating facts about creatures like the cassowary, electric caterpillar, cane toad, and puffer fish. Further reading is provided in the back matter, including an explanation of animals' need for powerful protection from their predators in the wild. This exceptionally well-written portion of the book is generously illustrated. The most eloquent of these cut paper and torn collages are on the front and back covers, which feature a rhesus monkey looking solemnly out, and then opening its large mouth filled with scarily sharp teeth. This superlative illustrator has given children yet another work that educates and amazes.—Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY END
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 920L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Black-Eyed Susan Book Awards - Picture Books 2011
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (October 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061896620X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618966202
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #778,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ladies and gentlemen do you know what your children desire? What they really want and so often are unable to attain? Practical advice. I don't mean the kind of standard parlor fare they hear so often every day ("Don't chew with your mouth open", "Don't poke the baby", "Don't attempt asbestos removal on your own", etc.). I'm talking about practical advice for surviving in the wild. Here's an example. You're in a boat, floating down the Nile, and you suddenly find yourself facing a hippo. What, in this particular situation, should you NOT do? Hm? Any ideas? Or what if there's a particularly charming Humboldt squid in the neighborhood and it invites you out for a leisurely swim. What should be your response? Kids are being told what not to do all the time, but it might make for a nice change of pace if they knew that if they did one thing or another they could potentially DIE a horrid and painful death. Steve Jenkins taps into the faux pas of the natural world giving us his standard cut paper lusciousness alongside a text that is funny, furious, and furry all at once. As good advice goes, Never Smile at a Monkey turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Using eighteen examples, Steve Jenkins enters the natural world and tells it like it is. First off, "NEVER pet a platypus". Simple text explains that as cute as they are, "the platypus...is the only poisonous mammal." The book continues in this manner, beginning each spread with instruction on on what NEVER to do, and following it up with the explanation why. Cut paper illustrations of fish and fowl, insects and mammals dot the text. At the end further information is given about each creature, and a Bibliography for further reading is included. So don't let that big-eyed cassowary fool you.
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Format: Hardcover
This fascinating book is chock-full of interesting facts about some of the lesser known and somewhat unusual ways that animals protect themselves. But what makes this so appealing to younger readers is that each page comes with a warning directed to them (i.e. Never Smile at a Monkey), followed by facts explaining why (a rhesus monkey "may interpret your show of teeth as an aggressive gesture and respond violently").

There is a lot of information packed in this standard 32-page picture book. The reading level is perfect for the beginning reader, and along the way they will pick up some new words such as entangled, unpredictable, predator and venomous.

Here are some of the more interesting facts that I picked up:

"NEVER PET A PLATYPUS: ...The platypus is the only poisonous mammal. It has venomous spurs on its hind legs, and it can give you a very painful jab."

"NEVER CLUTCH A CANE TOAD: ...It's harmless except for two large sacs of venom on its neck. If pressed, these pouches squirt out a blinding, and sometimes deadly poison."

"NEVER CONFRONT A KANGAROO: A kangaroo can deliver a kick powerful enough to cave in a person's chest."

You can see why first, second and third graders will eat this up. Reluctant readers will love the somewhat gory facts, and be drawn in by the pictures. The pictures are paper cuts, and they're colorful and appealing. I think Never Smile at a Monkey is a must for teachers and school librarians to have on hand.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My daughter's first grade class has parents come in four days a week to read to the students... the thing is, it's a surprise. My schedule had recently changed, so suddenly I was able to participate! The dilemma: What book do you read to a room full of unique 6- and 7-year-olds? This fabulous nonfiction book. I was the belle of the ball! The students couldn't get enough of these fun (sometimes shocking) facts about what to do if you encounter certain animals in the wild. Unfortunately, due to the excitement and risk of imminent death, I did not have time to finish reading the book. "But you must!" one of the girls exclaimed, "What if we meet up with the other animals and don't know what to do?!" :) No worries. I left it with the teacher to finish at the end of the day. Due to Never Smile at a Monkey, I received a gold star. :)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book contains facts on many animals. Since my daughters found that this book was educational, they have been reading it to my grand-daughter that will be 5 years old soon. It contains some really strange facts. Would also be good at a party.
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The age range for this book is 4-8 years old, so I bought a copy for each of our nephews--age 4 and 5. I'm VERY glad I read the book before giving it as a gift, because the book is really not for kids that young. I would never give this to a child younger than 10. Every page tells a story of how an animal can hurt or kill you, and that's a really scary message for young kids.

Still, the information in the book is interesting and little-known. I just wouldn't give it to young children for bedtime reading!
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My kid would check this out of the library every other week. The library copy was slightly damaged.
This copy arrived fast and was in excellent condition.

This book teaches tips about dealing with animals.
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Steve Jenkins always does a great job presenting the animal world to young readers. Young children will most likely not encounter these animals but will gain an appreciation of their wild nature from this book. Nicely done.
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