Monday, November 16, 2009

Never Smile at a Monkey

Never Smile at a Monkey: And 17 Other Important Things to Remember
Written and Illustrated by: Steve Jenkins
Recommended Ages: 4-9

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.

BookNosher Tidbit: It appears that Never Smile at a Monkey is Steve Jenkins' tenth book. For more information, visit his website at

BookNosher Activity: To me, his verb choices are really appealing and quite informative. Harass, jostle, clutch, poach, cuddle, caress, antagonize and badger are great words and not in your typical first to third grader's vocabulary. How fun to do more with these words, so that they too begin to use them in their written and spoken vocabulary.

No comments: