________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 24 . . . . February 24, 2012


There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen.

Sheree Fitch. Illustrated by Sydney Smith.
Halifax, NS: Nimbus, 2011.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-55109-866-1.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Myra Junyk.

***½ /4



There were monkeys
In my kitchen
They were climbing
Up the walls
They were dancing
On the ceiling
They were bouncing

Willa Wellowby wakes up one morning to find her home invaded by wild and wacky monkeys! There are all kinds of monkeys in Willa’s home: gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and baboons. They are dancing “to a funky/Monkey beat” while wearing amazing outfits: red leather boots, ten-gallon hats, shirts with rhinestones, and tartan kilts.

internal art      At first, Willa is simply shocked by the spectacle going on in her home. She soon realizes she needs help as the monkeys multiply. She frantically phones 911 asking for the police, the RCMP, Scotland Yard and the FBI. The monkeys have invaded the whole house! They dance in the kitchen to Beatles songs while eating minestrone soup and crackers. They jump and dance in the basement. They play croquet on the lawn and swing from the trees. They play bagpipes in her bedroom and do the Highland fling. They take a bubble bath in the tub while playing Hawaiian music.

      In a last ditch effort to regain some kind of control of the situation, Willa yells out one word, “Bananas!” Suddenly, all the monkeys stop what they are doing. Just as Wella starts to get to know them, the doorbell rings and the RCMP arrives – too late to help her – since all the monkeys are gone!

      This is a new and improved edition of Sheree Fitch’s There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen which won the Mr. Christie Award in 2002 for Best Canadian Children's book (ages eight and under). In this edition, the illustrations are done in watercolours. The monkeys dance and make mischief throughout the house while wearing outlandish but very bright outfits of red, yellow, green and blue. There is an immense amount of action in the illustrations of Sidney Smith.

      The main strength of this picture book is the strong and rhythmic text. Children will be enchanted by the short rhyming stanzas as they discover the chaos in Willa’s home. They will be introduced to new vocabulary as the chaos of a “National Irrational Primordial Disaster!” continues. The reference to “my brother’s ghetto blaster” is a bit dated and will require explanation since students will probably not be acquainted with this kind of device.

      There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen can definitely be used as a read-aloud for children at home and with students in primary classrooms. It would be very effective as well as a shared reading text. Students will learn many new words as they chant the strong rhythms of the rhyming stanzas. They will also be captivated by the silly actions of monkeys in the everyday environment of Willa’s home!

Highly Recommended.

Myra Junyk, of Toronto, ON, is a literacy advocate and author.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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