The monkey cage’s change of venue—to a spot near the picnic area—causes its inhabitants to learn human manners, but some just can’t stand for that.
The young monkeys are fascinated by the children outside their cage. And they quickly pick up on the ways the kids and parents interact. It’s not long before the monkeys are chewing with their mouths closed, taking turns, playing quietly, and tidying up. This drives their exasperated mother bananas: “TRY TO BEHAVE LIKE MONKEYS!” But each time they try to make her happy, they are deprived of watching the children’s antics; the fascinated kids either stop to watch the monkeys or the monkeys lose their concentration. But one day, a wild group of children visits the zoo. They are mystified by the unmonkeylike behavior of the monkeys and set out to show them what to do. When the zookeeper sees this, she understands she’s made a terrible mistake. Readers will expect her to move the monkey cage back to its original location, but her solution will have parents nodding in understanding and spark children’s laughter. Huyck’s digitally colored pencil illustrations play up the humor of the monkeys’ well-mannered behavior, and small details add to the fun—look for the monkey with a banana-peel tie and an age-old joke. The families are nicely diverse, and the zookeeper is a middle-aged white woman with a gray ponytail.
The twist at the end is both humorous and instructional; adults will hope children see and heed its message. (Picture book. 3-7)