The Summer of the Monkeys

If I were to list the most memorable books of my childhood, Wilson Rawls’ Where the Red Fern Grows would most definitely be on that list. It makes me cry every time.

I think that may be why I never read Summer of the Monkeys, even though it’s been sitting on my shelves for years–and probably still would be if not for the 9 For 09 Challenge. His initials are the reverse of mine, so I figured it was a good fit for the Letters category.

In the late 1800s Jay Berry Lee is growing up on an Oklahoma farm with his parents, crippled sister Daisy, and trusty hound dog Rowdy. He’s been all over the hills and knows just about everything there is to know about catching wild animals–except monkeys. They escaped when the train derailed and the circus is willing to pay quite a lot of money to get them back, money that Jay Berry would love to buy his own pony with. But despite his Grandpa’s schemes those monkeys can be pretty smart…

I enjoyed this, but I think I would have liked it a little more when I was younger (though that’s no fault of the book). Rawls has a very authentic voice that captures the joy and love of a boy growing up in the open country, much like his own Ozark childhood. At times this made a little too much of a boy’s book for me. But it is also touching in the simple ways that faith can be evident in Nature, like Daisy’s stories of the Old Man of the Mountains looking over them.

I really liked the premise of this story. At first glance one might scoff at the thought of escaped mokeys in the Ozarks as implausible. And yet, it’s just the kind of funny mishap that’s bound to happen in real life. I wonder if it really did!

These were the only two books that Rawls wrote, both award winners and in many ways autobiographical. His wife had to correct many of the spelling and grammar mistakes in his original manuscripts. He spent much of his life afterwards as a motivational speaker, talking to children about the importance of education and following dreams.

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Published in: on July 7, 2009 at 1:44 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] The Summer of the Monkeys, by Wilson […]


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