Cover image for The monkey bridge
The monkey bridge
Martin, Rafe, 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, Inc., [1997]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
A human king learns wisdom and compassion from a monkey king willing to make a great sacrifice for the good of his subjects.
Reading Level:
AD 430 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.9 0.5 36400.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.3 2 Quiz: 20934.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BQ1462.E5 M37 1997 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



From the renowned author of The Rough-Face Girl comes an exquisitely rendered version of one of India's best-loved tales about what it means to be a king. In the heart of Benares, on the banks of the river Ganges, stands a tree with fruit so perfect it can only be called treasure. How the tree got there is a tale of two rulers--one selfish and proud, one generous and brave--one a man and one a monkey. Having studied the Buddhist tradition for decades, Martin is at his lyrical best in this fable of how a human king's greed puts a tribe of monkeys in mortal danger, while a monkey king's sacrifice restores peace to his kingdom. Exquisitely illustrated with watercolor and gouache paintings in the authentic style of Indian and Persian miniatures, The Monkey Bridge has something important to say about the nature of true nobility and leadership.  

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 6^-9. A tribe of monkeys, led by a monkey king, lives in a most magnificent tree, a tree that grows fruit more aromatic and delicious than any other. When people, who live in a nearby kingdom, discover the wonders of the tree, trouble begins. The human king wants the tree all for himself and sends his bowmen with their weapons. When confronted with arrows, the monkey king uses his own body to help his subjects escape. In this traditional Buddhist folktale from India, humans learn from the animals: the monkey king's action and wisdom serve as a model for the king of the humans. Amiri's detailed, richly colored illustrations convey a distinct sense of place. Young children will enjoy spotting the monkeys spilling over the decorative borders, and the convincing story line and large cast of supporting characters make this an excellent choice for readers' theater or creative drama. --Karen Morgan

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this retelling of a traditional Buddhist tale, a greedy, insensitive king learns true leadership from a wise monkey, one of the incarnations of the Buddha. A tribe of monkeys lives in a remote tree with fruit so sumptuous and so fragrant that the Monkey King fears it will bring trouble. Indeed, the king of Benares discovers one of its fallen fruits downriver and then fixes on finding "his" tree. But when his subjects draw their arrows on the monkeys, he is stunned to see the Monkey King risking his life by stretching out his long body to make an escape bridge for his tribe. On the whole ripe with atmosphere, Martin's (Mysterious Tales of Japan) prose and dialogue grow a bit didactic: "It is my love for [my tribe] and my desire to help and protect them that makes me king," the monkey tells the human king. Amiri's (Babri) paintings with bright colors of watercolor and gouache, clean lines and stylized motifs resembling Persian miniatures place the story in its mythical context. The tale's moral agenda does not overpower its considerable appeal, thanks to the strong writing and the vivid paintings that are both decorative and dynamic, swarming with the Monkey King's playful and devoted subjects. Ages 4-7. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 4‘A retelling of a traditional jataka tale, in which Buddha, in the form of an animal, exerts himself "to inspire greater wisdom and compassion." In this age-old story set in Benares, India, the Monkey King is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save his people. At the center of the strife is the fruit of the Treasure Tree, which bears a strong resemblance to the pomegranate. A greedy human king comes into possession of one of the fruits and vows to find its source. He encounters the Monkey King, who, through his compassion and bravery, teaches the man valuable lessons in leadership and sharing. The retelling itself is awkward in spots, e.g., "One day the Monkey King realized: any fruit that fell from the Treasure Tree into the river would be carried swiftly downstream." With their decorative borders and bright colors, Amiri's lavish paintings have a Persian quality; since India was ruled by Muslim kings during Buddha's lifetime, the illustrations are appropriate. However, the larger size and dark coloring of the Monkey King seems rather incongruous with the smaller, honey-colored monkey subjects. Minor points aside, Martin successfully brings this brightly illustrated story about the meaning of true nobility to a new audience.‘Mollie Bynum, formerly at Chester Valley Elementary School, Anchorage, AK (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.