MONKEY FOR SALE by Sanna Stanley


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8
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In an echo of The Old Woman and Her Pig, an African village market is the scene of several purchases and subsequent rounds of barter initiated by a young girl and her friend. Luzolo has a five-franc coin to spend on market day. Her father cautions her not to buy the first thing she sees: “Look around, choose what you really want, and then bargain for a fair price.” Her mother adds, “no one gets something for nothing on market day.” Luzolo and her friend, Kiese share what they each purchase and then hear that a monkey is for sale, obviously a disturbing discovery. They set off to trade throughout the market, until they can get the monkey away from its captor. Eventually, the beans and rice they barter for their bracelets and nail polish trade for a very nice basket, that trades for four tin cups that trade for embroidery, and that, finally, for the water pot the monkey seller wants. The girls take the monkey and head for the jungle, where they immediately release him and admonish, “Next time, stay away from Mama Lusufu!” The story ends, “But the monkey didn’t listen.” The illustrations—etched and hand-painted Chine collé on mulberry paper—do little to extend the text, lacking the vibrancy and vitality of an African market filled with foods, fabrics, and goods. There’s no hint of what the characters have in mind to do once they obtain the monkey, other than that sense of unhappiness when they hear it’s in captivity, so that comes as a nice surprise. The author does relate the interconnection within a community and the ripples created by trading what one has for what one wants. The observant young reader will detect and enjoy the circular story of trading among the villagers and the inevitable return of the monkey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 2002
ISBN: 0-374-35017-5
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2002


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