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Friday, June 17, 2016

Childhood Favorites...Summer of the Monkeys

Childhood favorites. Everyone has a favorite book or author from childhood. A book that touched them or changed them. A book that perhaps initiated their love of reading and put them on the path of libraries and learning.

Books: Childhood Favorites is a monthly series focusing on beloved books from the past. 

Donald Zolan, Quiet Time.

Hands down, if I had to pick one favorite book from my childhood, it would be Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls. Most people know Wilson Rawls because of Where the Red Fern Grows. And, don't get me wrong, I loved Where the Red Fern Grows, but I had no desire to reread it. I adored and devoured Summer of the Monkeys.

I don't remember where I got it, probably from my parents as a gift. It was first published in 1976 and I would have been 10 years old. I always got books in my Easter basket and in my Christmas stockings. I often received books as rewards or before we would go on a trip.

Summer of the Monkeys resonated with me in ways I still can't describe. I loved 14 year old Jay Berry and his twin sister Daisy. All Jay Berry wanted in life was a pony and a .22. Daisy was crippled and the family was saving all their money so she could have a much needed operation on her leg.

One summer, Jay Berry found some monkeys in the creek bottoms and discovered there was a reward for them, because they were escaped from a circus. So Jay Berry decided to spend his summer trying to catch these monkeys and earn the reward money.

His adventures are legendary.

I won't spoil it, but suffice it to say, the ending still makes me cry because of its beautiful poignancy. Summer of the Monkeys is a wonderful coming of age story, but more than that, it's a story about the sweet relationships of family.

In 1998, the book was made into a film and while it had a terrific cast and it stayed fairly true to the book, it in no way captured the magic that is Summer of the Monkeys. Find it. Read it.

What about you? What is one of your childhood favorites?

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