Cover image for So say the little monkeys
So say the little monkeys
Van Laan, Nancy.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, [1998]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 25 cm
A rhyming retelling of an Indian folktale from Brazil about tiny, playful monkeys and why they have no place to call home.
General Note:
"An Anne Schwartz book."
Reading Level:
AD 490 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.7 0.5 51266.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.2 1 Quiz: 22855 Guided reading level: L.
Added Author:


Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F2519.3.F6 V36 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
F2519.3.F6 V36 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
F2519.3.F6 V36 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
F2519.3.F6 V36 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
F2519.3.F6 V36 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
F2519.3.F6 V36 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The tiny monkeys won't let the need to build a shelter interrupt their fun. But when night rolls around, their wet and cold coat reminds them of its importance. Based on a tale from the Brazilian rain forest, this young, lively South American tale is an irresistible read-aloud with repetitive rhythm and captivating artwork. Full color.

Author Notes

Verna Aardema was born on June 6, 1911 in New Era Michigan. She received her B.A. degree from Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences in 1934. She was a grade school teacher from 1934 to 1973 and staff correspondent for the Muskegon Chronicle from 1951 to 1972.

Aardema started writing children's stories in the 1950's, and in 1960 she published her first books, Tales from the Story Hat and The Sky God Stories. She specializes in the modernization and adaptation of traditional African folktales. In the 1970s, Aardema joined illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon and produced three picture books. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears received the Caldecott Medal in 1976 and the Brooklyn Art Books for Children Award in 1977. Who's in Rabbit's House? was the 1977 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award winner in 1978. Aardema received the Children's Reading Round Table Award in 1981, and several of her books have been selected as Notable Books by the American Library Association. Oh Kojo! How Could You! won the 1984 Parents' Choice Award for Literature.

Verna Aardema died in 2000.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 3^-7. The small "blackmouth" monkeys that live along the banks of Brazil's Black River have inspired an indigenous tale to explain why they sleep on thorny palms each night. In playful rhyme, Van Laan describes them as they swing, jump, and run: "Tiny, tiny monkeys having fun!" They have so much fun each day that when the rain starts ("PLINKA PLINKA") and the wind blows ("WOOYA WOOYA"), they wish they had spent time building a shelter. But morning comes, and the sun is out, and there are ripe bananas, so they decide to build one Amanhatomorrow. Heo's pencil, oil, and collage illustrations in earth tones and black form patterns evoke aboriginal bark paintings on some pages and Asian calligraphy on others. The rhyme and rhythm ("Shout, Jabba Jabba, Munch, Jabba Jabba, Swing, Jabba Jabba, Sing, Jabba Jabba") make for a bouncy read-aloud. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

Children will find much to relate to in this whimsical tale of a wild bunch of monkeys intent on having fun and easily distracted from more practical considerations. Drawn from a Brazilian folktale, Van Laan's (Little Fish, Lost) infectious rhyming text tells of the tiny monkeys ("blackmouths") who live along the Rio Negro in Brazil. Homeless wanderers, the blackmouths sleep in tall palm trees which, because of sharp thorns on their branches, are not the most comfortable resting places. Heo's (Pets!) pencil, oil and collage illustrations carry the childlike energy that has become her calling card. She illustrates the antics of the monkeys in a crazy quilt of offbeat hues: chartreuse, burnt orange, banana yellow and aqua. The primates cavort and dance among the thorns in pages that alternate between spreads and single-page illustrations. As in all folktales, there is an underlying cautionary lesson woven through the revels and sing-along soundings ("Plinka Plinka" when it rains, "Wooya Wooya" when the wind howls): sometimes it pays to plan for the storms and dangers that seem so distant when the sun is shining and calling little ones out to play. Ages 3-7. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-In this Brazilian folktale, a group of impractical little monkeys live alongside the black waters of a cool, dark river where they sing and play all day. At night it rains, "PLINKA PLINKA," and the wind blows, "WOOYA WOOYA," and the only available shelter is the uncomfortable, thorny branches of the tall trees. Shivering and crying, the monkeys vow to build themselves a home. Remarkably, it doesn't take much more than a bunch of ripe bananas and a sun shining brightly to keep these frisky fellows from their intended chore. In fact, these mischievously charming primates never do get around to completing their task; they're just too busy enjoying themselves. Stylishly drawn illustrations rendered in pencil, oil, and collage reflect the natural colors of the forest while maintaining a sense of animated glee. The rhyming text occasionally swings across a bright white page, keeping pace with the monkeys' unrestrained exuberance as "They swing, WHEEEE, over here./They swing, WHEEEE, over there./They sing, `Jibba jibba jabba,'/ as they jump and run." An author's note states that the tale comes from the Indians who live along the Rio Negro in Brazil and was created to explain the unusual behavior of the "blackmouth" monkeys. A read-aloud delight with a repetitive text that supports beginning readers, this picture book is a guaranteed good time for all.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.