NELLIE BLY'S MONKEY by Joan W. Blos

NELLIE BLY'S MONKEY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A premise that splits the book's focus and a piece of artistic license that howls for revocation: The story of daredevil journalist and circumnavigator Nellie Bly is told by the monkey she bought en route to Singapore. A foreword by Blos (The Hungry Little Boy, 1995, etc.) places readers briefly in Bly's world; an afterword discusses sources; Stock adds pleasing, formally framed watercolors that evoke the era and locales. Readers join Bly--as the monkey, McGinty, does--mid-trip, which renders a less-than-global view of the 72-day tour. Bly's various crises and triumphs are flattened by McGinty's peculiarly unmonkeylike, Victorian narration. He confesses curiosity, but never exhibits it; title character he may be, but that doesn't save him from being dropped off at the zoo when Bly returns home, an act that will dismay readers. With all the excitement inherent to this tale (intrepid heroine! exotic scenery! race against time!), both the framing and telling of it result in a book that is about neither Bly nor her monkey. Disappointing.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1996
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Morrow