Monkey Puzzle - Story Snug

Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

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+

Author: Julia Donaldson / Illustrator: Axel Scheffler

The Monkey Puzzle sticker book inspired my daughter to ask if there was a Monkey Puzzle blogpost on Story Snug. She was insistent that we include it 🙂

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20 responses to “Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler”

  1. SLOAH avatar

    This brings back memories… it’s an old favourite of ours too! Mine used to love naming the animals. #MMBC

    1. Catherine avatar

      I love reading this book with non native speakers, even if they don’t understand the text they can follow the story through the pictures.

  2. Acorn Books avatar

    We love this story too, it’s a great one for developing language in pre schoolers. Love your ideas for activities #readwithme

    1. Catherine avatar

      So many of Julia Donaldson’s books are great for preschoolers because of their wonderful rhymes and use of repetition.

  3. Shell Louise avatar

    I think this is the only Julia Donaldson book that we don’t have. I’ll have to add it to the collection!

    1. Catherine avatar

      It’s a great book, we’ve enjoyed most of her stories 🙂

  4. BookBairn avatar

    I’ve not read Monkey Puzzle! Don’t know how that happened! Must fix it! #readwithme

    1. Catherine avatar

      Monkey Puzzle is really fun to read, it’s got some great repetition 🙂

  5. Sarah MumofThree World avatar

    I absolutely love Monkey Puzzle! It was the first Donaldson/ Scheffler book we discovered, back when my nearly-16 year old was 2. Until then, I’d found children’s books very tiresome, but Monkey Puzzle is something special.

    1. Catherine avatar

      Monkey Puzzle is really cleverly written and the caterpillar / butterfly twist is so simple but also really clever 🙂

  6. Chantelle Hazelden avatar
    Chantelle Hazelden

    This is one of my kids’ favourites!! Thank you for sharing with #readwithme

    1. Catherine avatar

      My daughter was stunned that I hadn’t already written about it on Story Snug!

  7. mummy here and there avatar

    Both my boys love this book, it is so appealing with the rythming and illustration X #mmbc

    1. Catherine avatar

      It’s a great book and the rhyme is really easy to read 🙂

  8. Debbie Roberts avatar

    Hi Catherine, I sort of feel sorry for the butterfly for not having cute furry babies to cuddle. It does sound like a fun book though and great for getting children to think about animals and their differences.

    Thank you for linking up with the #MMBC.


    1. Catherine avatar

      I really laughed the first time that I read the book and realised that a butterfly’s babies don’t look like her!!

  9. Jayne @ Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs avatar

    What a lovely book and a fab way to educate little ones about animals.

    Thanks so much for joining in with #MMBC. Have a lovely weekend and hopefully see you Monday x

    1. Catherine avatar

      It is a great way to get children thinking about the different attributes of each animal 🙂

  10. joannamatt avatar

    My 2 year old adores this book. He loves yelling out the names of the animals on each page, and then listing them all at the end. Keeps him gripped everytime!

    1. Catherine avatar

      It’s a great book for introducing little ones to animals and also good for introducing older children to animal descriptions.