Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Tree Monkeys

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday . It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because I think it teaches a hard but very good lesson.

The Tree Monkeys
By Wynne Marshall
Illustrated by Cynthia G. Hale
36 pages – ages 6+
Published by Tate Publishing on August 23, 2011

Theme/Topic – Actions have consequences/Sharing

Opening and Synopsis – “Once upon a time, there was a small boy who lived in a small village tucked in a lush valley on the other side of the world.

Behind his home, there was a tall steep hill. On top of the hill, there was an old and mighty tree. His tree. No one else ever huffed and puffed his way up the daunting hill to even see the tree, so that made this tree, the boy’s tree.”

A selfish little boy finds monkeys in his tree and he doesn’t want to share HIS tree with them. The monkeys offered to share their picnic with the boy and wanted the boy to come and join in their fun, but the boy wanted the tree all to himself. The boy’s anger grew and grew as he watched the monkeys play and eat in the top of HIS tree. When a banana peel accidentally slipped down and fell right on the boy’s head the boy gets into a rage. Outraged, the boy decides that he will get the monkeys out of the tree once and for all by cutting down the tree. After he did, he was happy he won! They were gone…but so was his tree. He realizes that he was being the monster not the monkeys and he wants to take his actions back but he can’t. His tree is gone.

Activities and Resources – I think parents can use this book to talk to their children about behavior and consequences to their actions. Parents can ask their kids questions like; “How could the boy have handled the monkeys better?” “Why do you think the boy had a bad temper?”  “Why was he mean to the monkeys?” “What would you have done?” “How can the boy apologize to the monkeys?” There’s a cool activity against bullying that would also work for teaching consequences where you take a piece of paper and have your kids crumple it up and stomp on it then say “I’m sorry” to the and try to straighten it out, but the paper will never be the same. There’s many sites that explain this activity but here’s one from Bubble and Faith. There is also a similar activity where kids damage paper hearts and try to make it better but it’s never the same described on Kids Activities called “Sticks and Stones.”

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog “Just Right Books” HERE!

Why I like this book – I liked the meaning of the book. A lot of stories have happy endings but this book doesn’t and it really makes kids think about consequences to their actions. There are good lessons about sharing, controlling your temper, name calling and most importantly, sometimes you can’t “take back” what you do. Besides the serious parts of the book, it also had some very funny parts that made you laugh out loud (like when the banana peel hits the kid in the head). The illustrations are awesome and Mrs. Marshalls descriptive way she writes is really fun. For example, “This immediately led to an all-out explosion of merriment by all with unbridled howling accompanied by vigorous swinging and shaking of the branches and tossing of the fruit.” I recommend the book for a little older kids (6+) because there is name calling (the boy calls the monkeys “stupid” and tells them to “shut-up,” words we don’t use in our house), but I think that parents can use this to show kids how out of control the selfish little boy was and how bad his behavior is (and my mom told me she thought that at 6 years old most kids are hearing these words in school and parents could use the story to show their kids that they are not good words to use). Even though the book has a sad ending, it isn’t too sad. It leaves the boy thinking about what he has done and it’s a good place for parents to talk to their kids about the story.


I got to meet Mrs. Marshall at a book signing at the Quakertown Library in Quakertown PA. She is a local author from Bucks county PA. Mrs. Marshal first read her book to all of us kids (and adults) and Mrs. Marshall’s reading style really gave life to her book! After she read, she took questions from the audience and signed books ). She told us that she got the idea for the book, because, well, she just likes monkeys. She said she used to live in Central Africa and the tree in the book looks like the trees where she lived. The hut the boy lives in is also like the hut she lived in when she was in Africa. Mrs. Marshal said she had written a couple of books and had them on her computer but she was always afraid of sending them into a publisher because she was afraid of getting rejected. Then Mrs. Marshall got cancer and she survived it. That changed her thinking. She thought if she could survive cancer why did she have to worry about getting rejected? So she sent it in and it got accepted! Mrs. Marshall is a very fun person, she lives on a farm, flies planes, scuba-dives and has an awesome pen collection and she used a different silly pen for every book she signed 🙂 !

When I asked her why she had a sad ending in her book she told me that she thought it was important for kids to learn that sometimes you can’t fix what you have done and you really need to think about what you do. I also think that’s a great message!

You can learn more about Mrs. Marshall and her book HERE!

Categories: Age 6-9, Age 9+

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

23 replies

  1. Wow, Erik! What a great choice this is. I like the whole idea of the book and your very thoughtful presentation of it. These are all important questions parents and children should discuss, and a picture book is a great vehicle to enable that discussion. I also loved the bonus section – learning a little about Mrs. Marshall. She sounds like an interesting and amazing person. Thanks so much for sharing this one!

  2. What a thorough and thoughtful review, Erik. I too don’t always like happy endings and think that sometimes challenging endings make us remember the book much longer. I love all that can be brought out of this story with kids. It really can be a great springboard for discussion about consequences. How cool that you got to meet the author!

  3. What a sad story! But what a much easier lesson to learn in a book than in real life. Hopefully it WILL make kids think. Superb review, by the way.

  4. When my book reading at the Quakertown Library concluded, it was brought to my attention that a “secret” book reviewer was in the audience. Erik was then introduced to me. He is an impressive, thoughtful, serious professional.

    Erik and I sat for some time as Erik asked me questions for his review. We also chatted about other things, and shared a laugh or two. What a fine, interesting, intelligent, handsome young man!

    As I read his review, I am struck by its thoroughness and comprehensiveness. No detail escaped Erik’s notice, although we spoke for the longest time. He identified and grasped all the lessons in my story, and wrote a wonderful review that did The Tree Monkeys quite proud. Actually, one couldn’t ask for a better review.

    Thank you, Erik. God bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you.

    • No, thank YOU for:
      1. Being there.
      2. Writing the book.
      3. Reading your story.
      4. The nice compliments.
      5. Reading this review. 🙂
      I really enjoyed the interview, Mrs. Marshall! I liked meeting you there and talking about scuba-diving, plane-flying, and how you got the idea for the book…
      P.S. “A fine, intelligent, handsome young man”. Thanks! 🙂

  5. That is a wonderful lesson to teach kids in a very fun way. My kids would love those monkeys. Thanks Erik!

  6. I like the idea the book doesn’t have a happy ending. I agree Erik that sad endings make you think. I appreciate Mrs. Marshall’s message.

  7. What an amazing review! I too think it’s important that not all books work out wonderfully at the end. This sounds like a wonderful way to discuss the consequences of our actions.

    Mrs. Marshall’s story is very inspiring! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  8. This is such an excellent review, Erik! I especially appreciated the bonus information about the author — and wow, how cool that the author herself commented on this post!

    Also, the activities you suggest to teach how we can’t undo things we’ve done, are excellent. I hadn’t known about those crumpled paper ones, but they would be so effective. Thanks for sharing them!

  9. Oh wow! Erik, that was a beautiful review. You certainly have a great writing talent, thought provoking, enchanting, and a natural. How wonderful that not only did you get to meet the author and spend time with her, but that she actually posted a comment here on your blog. I have to confess I was near to tears by the time it came for me to comment, I was that chuffed for you. A great job Erik.

  10. Erik, the premise of this story sounds great for all kids. Sharing is a difficult concept for kids (and adults) to learn. I think I need to pick up this book! As a mom, I also feel it’s important for kids to learn early on that there are not always happy endings in life (it’s the realist in me). Sometimes the consequences of our actions are not worth the joy from the action- a lesson probably better learned from a book than from a parent. Thanks for sharing this book!

  11. Hi Erik! That is so cool that you got to meet and spend time with Mrs. Marshall. She sounds like a very interesting lady. I took a Anthropology course a couple of terms ago on Africa. It was fascinating and I hope to go there someday. I loved your review. It was very thorough and well written. It will be another book to add to my growing library list. Thank you! 🙂

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