For the love of monkeys


I hope to encourage more children to discover and love reading, but I want to focus particularly on the appreciation of picture books, and the reading of both pictures and words. Picture books are for everybody at any age, not books to be left behind as we grow older. The best ones leave a tantalising gap between the pictures and the words, a gap that is filled by the reader’s imagination, adding so much to the excitement of reading a book.
-Anthony Browne

This post is for those of you who, like myself, love and adore monkeys. You know who you are. Feature some cute monkeys in a picture book and you’re enthralled. Mention a monkey-themed story time and I’m getting my monkey puppet out to rehearse. Ask for some monkey picture books and I’ll give you a whole stack within five minutes (Favorites include Little Gorilla by Ruth Bornstein, Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett). That said, I have to point out that Anthony Browne’s book One Gorilla: A Counting Book is one of those pictures books you will not be able to resist even if you’re less enthused about monkeys. It is gorgeous. He features various primates- from gorillas to gibbons, from mandrills to spider monkeys, all vividly expressive and striking. It is very simple, with the focus on large numbers 1-10 and the names of the primates; only the last couple pages contain more: “All primates. All one family. All my family…and yours!”

I always sensed Anthony Browne was a big primate fan, based on his books Gorilla, Willy the Chimp, etc. But these images are so breathtaking, it seems as if he must have lived among primates to gain some intense understanding of them. I particularly love the orangutan, chimpanzee, and spider monkey pages. The gorilla is reminiscent of the main character in his endearing book Little Beauty, a story about an unlikely friendship between a kitten and gorilla. His stories are great for preschool and beyond. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.


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