THE TURTLE AND THE MONKEY
Joanna C. Galdone
Described as "a Philippine tale," this story of a turtle who finds a banana tree in the river and a monkey who cheats her out of its fruit begins with a catchy folklore situation but ultimately trails off in bits and pieces. As Turtle can't carry the tree to her garden by herself, she asks Monkey for help and agrees to give him his share in return. Monkey then insists on splitting the tree now, not the bananas later, and chooses the showier top half for himself. Though it is Turtle's half that survives and bears fruit, once more she must turn to Monkey, offering him some of the bananas if he will climb the tree and throw some down. Instead, he merely climbs up and eats his fill. Snappy enough so far, the story needs only a fitting comeuppance, but Turtle's strewing thorns and prickers around the tree and Monkey's painful hopping about on his descent doesn't quite answer. Grafted onto this is a briar-bush routine, with Monkey threatening reprisal and Turtle begging not to be thrown into the river. . . and then, when she is, paddling happily downstream, the bananas forgotten. Even Galdone's drawings lack spirit, with repetitive, minimally varied shots of Monkey and Turtle facing off against a slapdash tropical background.