A HONEY OF A CHIMP by Norma Klein


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Start with a catchy, if unlikely, situation, doomed to end sadly but not tragically: twelve-year-old Emily gets a $1000-dollar pet pygmy chimp, loves it and cares for it and teaches it some symbols, but has to give it up to the San Diego Zoo (the nicest home to be found) when Mom has a second child. Recognizing how thin a story evolves therefrom, trim it with a lot of trendy/trite trappings: an uncle who's a poet, a gourmet cook, and gay; a shot of Mom and Dad having sex (""You mean they're still doing it?"" asks best friend Nicole, who is Puerto Rican for good measure); some high-toned Manhattan store names and a new baby named after Rosalind Franklin; a memory of Dad finally consenting to let nine-year-old Emily see him naked, despite a ""repressed"" background that made him self-conscious about it; Emily's last-minute decision not to watch Rosalind's birth (yes, they knew it would be a Rosalind because Mom had amniocentesis); and bland interracial couples and counterparts, sprinkled about like salt and pepper sets. Pad all that with Emily's mindless blather: ""I don't think I have a good figure so far. I guess I might be very tall some day since I'm already five-feet-three and I'm only twelve. I wouldn't mind being five-foot-six or -eight, but I hope I'm not over six feet. That would be too tall. . . . I've never been very fat or very thin, just sort of in between. . . . I don't know if I'll be a late bloomer. I don't think so. I don't think I'll be an early bloomer, but not especially late."" A classic example of the children's book as synthetic commodity.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1980
Publisher: Pantheon