The discovery of a Monkey Puzzle sticker book in a bookshop led us to pull an old favourite off the bookshelf and read it again. We love this cleverly written story which intertwines humour and learning in a fun way. It was definitely one of the most well read stories when my daughter was younger and there’s also a board book version for the littlest readers.
The Story: A butterfly offers to help a little monkey find his/her mum. But every time the monkey describes Mum the butterfly introduces him/her to a different animal. Finally the monkey tells the butterfly that Mum looks like him/her which surprises the butterfly as her babies don’t look like her! Finally the monkey is reunited with a monkey. But is it the monkey that he’s looking for?…
Monkey Puzzle is a very cleverly written story which is full of humour but also introduces children to a wide range of animals as well as the concept of caterpillars changing into butterflies. The little monkey gets more and more frustrated as the story unfolds and little ones love joining in with the repetition, “No, no, no! That’s a …”. Axel Scheffler’s trademark illustrations add to the humour and we love the expressions on the animals’ faces.
Julia Donaldson’s bouncy rhymes move this easy to read story along and we love the way that the monkey uses his body language to describe his/her mum, especially when s/he shows the butterfly how mum’s tail coils around trees and how Mum leaps and springs. My daughter’s favourite animal is the snake, she has a fantastically menacing expression on her face as she guards her eggs. I love the double page spread that shows all the animals watching the frustrated monkey try to explain that s/he looks like Mum!
I have read Monkey Puzzle to groups of children many times. It’s a great book to introduce different animals to young children and older children laugh at ‘the twist’ when the butterfly introduces her babies and realises that she needs to look for another monkey. It’s also a story that non native speakers can easily understand, it can help them to learn animal names as well as how to describe an animal. A fun activity for older children is to choose an animal that has an attribute that is similar to a monkey, describe the animal and have a friend guess which animal has been chosen. I have also had small groups of children collaborate to write a new version of the story using different animals.
This is a fun story that still makes me smile, even after countless readings!!
Age Range: 3 to 7