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Never Smile at a Monkey: And 17 Other Important Things to Remember [Hardcover]

Steve Jenkins

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Book Description

19 Oct 2009 061896620X 978-0618966202
When it comes to wild animals, everyone knows that there are certain things you just don't do. It's clearly a bad idea to tease a tiger, pull a python's tail, or bother a black widow spider. But do you know how dangerous it can be to pet a platypus, collect a cone shell, or touch a tang fish? Some creatures have developed unusual ways of protecting themselves or catching prey, which can make them unexpectedly hazardous to your health. In this dynamic and fascinating picture book by Steve Jenkins, you'll find out what you should never do if you encounter one of these surprisingly dangerous animals.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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About the Author

Steve Jenkins has written and illustrated over twenty picture books for young readers, including the Caldecott Honor-winning What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? His books have been called stunning, eyepopping, inventive, gorgeous, masterful, extraordinary, playful, irresistible, compelling, engaging, accessible, glorious, and informative. He lives in Colorado with his wife and frequent collaborator, Robin Page, and their children. To learn more about Steve and his books, visit www.stevejenkinsbooks.com. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not even if it tell really good knock knock jokes 20 Oct 2009
By E. R. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Ladies and gentlemen do you know what your children desire? What they really want and so often are unable to attain? Practical advice. I don't mean the kind of standard parlor fare they hear so often every day ("Don't chew with your mouth open", "Don't poke the baby", "Don't attempt asbestos removal on your own", etc.). I'm talking about practical advice for surviving in the wild. Here's an example. You're in a boat, floating down the Nile, and you suddenly find yourself facing a hippo. What, in this particular situation, should you NOT do? Hm? Any ideas? Or what if there's a particularly charming Humboldt squid in the neighborhood and it invites you out for a leisurely swim. What should be your response? Kids are being told what not to do all the time, but it might make for a nice change of pace if they knew that if they did one thing or another they could potentially DIE a horrid and painful death. Steve Jenkins taps into the faux pas of the natural world giving us his standard cut paper lusciousness alongside a text that is funny, furious, and furry all at once. As good advice goes, Never Smile at a Monkey turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Using eighteen examples, Steve Jenkins enters the natural world and tells it like it is. First off, "NEVER pet a platypus". Simple text explains that as cute as they are, "the platypus...is the only poisonous mammal." The book continues in this manner, beginning each spread with instruction on on what NEVER to do, and following it up with the explanation why. Cut paper illustrations of fish and fowl, insects and mammals dot the text. At the end further information is given about each creature, and a Bibliography for further reading is included. So don't let that big-eyed cassowary fool you. She'll kick you in the chest soon as look at you if she has half a mind to.

I get parents and kids in my library all the time looking for non-fiction books with words easy enough for a beginning reader. And sure, we have some leveled stuff, but when their eyes turn longingly to some of the more artistic titles you know you have to find them something ANYTHING that's written for smaller tykes. Jenkins is careful to make the text in this book something a dedicated seven or eight-year-old might be able to read on their own. And think of all the cool new words they'll learn! "Lethal". "Unpredictable". "Venomous".

The great thing about Never Smile at a Monkey (aside from the title) is that the concept instantly grabs you. I fully intend to booktalk this to the classes of kids that come into my library by telling them, "This book could save your life!" I'll then follow it up with, "Why should you never squeeze a cane toad? Any ideas? How about the blue ringed octopus? Can you tell me why this books says to, `NEVER bother a blue-ringed octopus'?" And yes, the descriptions of what can happen to you if you do not follow this book's advice can be a little gory. But Jenkins doesn't actually show a cassowary delivering lethal kicks to an unsuspecting person or a spitting cobra making contact with a pair of eyeballs. Kids love hearing about gory stuff anyway. When you tell them that a box jellyfish can wrap you up in its tentacles after spotting you with its twenty-four eyes and kill you instantly, they'll be horrified and delighted all at once. You can even flip to the back of the book and see all the animals in their various attack modes, sans victims. You may never look at a platypus the same way again.

Of course, if you've ever seen one of Jenkins' books then you know what to expect with this one. He makes cut paper lift off the page without the need of pop-ups (though, admittedly, I'm convinced that someday he'll do a project with pop-up artist Robert Sabuda and then the world will gasp for the glory of it all). Essentially Jenkins has mastered (and I don't think he really gets enough credit for this) the art of making paper fibers look like fur. Look at the cover if you don't believe me. The rhesus monkey staring intently at you has a soft brown coat that tufts up around its ears and mouth just as real fur would. Jenkins has even found a way to distinguish this fluffy fur-like paper fiber from the equally pulled apart but not fluffy at all fibers found in the monkey's great green irises. Turn the book to the back and there's the monkey again, only this time his teeth are on sharp, horrid display. You'd be forgiven for hastily removing your hand from the book after looking at this.

I suppose that in a lot of ways the book this bears the most similarities to in my mind is another Jenkins title called Actual Size. He's not really a gimmicky author, but the spin on that book was that all the images inside were the same size as they were in real life. And in both cases the cover shows a primate staring at the reader. In Actual Size the primate is small and adorable. Here, you get the distinct impression that this monkey has got your number, and he doesn't like what he sees one bit. Kids, on the other hand, will take one look at this title and cover and find themselves irresistibly drawn to a book that instructs them in nature's fickle ways. Another gorgeous Jenkins creation for the kids who like the thought of living life on the edge.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was a Mystery Reader star! 6 April 2010
By Amy B. London - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My daughter's first grade class has parents come in four days a week to read to the students... the thing is, it's a surprise. My schedule had recently changed, so suddenly I was able to participate! The dilemma: What book do you read to a room full of unique 6- and 7-year-olds? This fabulous nonfiction book. I was the belle of the ball! The students couldn't get enough of these fun (sometimes shocking) facts about what to do if you encounter certain animals in the wild. Unfortunately, due to the excitement and risk of imminent death, I did not have time to finish reading the book. "But you must!" one of the girls exclaimed, "What if we meet up with the other animals and don't know what to do?!" :) No worries. I left it with the teacher to finish at the end of the day. Due to Never Smile at a Monkey, I received a gold star. :)
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and little known facts about how animals protect themselves 17 Nov 2009
By The Book Nosher - Published on Amazon.com
This fascinating book is chock-full of interesting facts about some of the lesser known and somewhat unusual ways that animals protect themselves. But what makes this so appealing to younger readers is that each page comes with a warning directed to them (i.e. Never Smile at a Monkey), followed by facts explaining why (a rhesus monkey "may interpret your show of teeth as an aggressive gesture and respond violently").

There is a lot of information packed in this standard 32-page picture book. The reading level is perfect for the beginning reader, and along the way they will pick up some new words such as entangled, unpredictable, predator and venomous.

Here are some of the more interesting facts that I picked up:

"NEVER PET A PLATYPUS: ...The platypus is the only poisonous mammal. It has venomous spurs on its hind legs, and it can give you a very painful jab."

"NEVER CLUTCH A CANE TOAD: ...It's harmless except for two large sacs of venom on its neck. If pressed, these pouches squirt out a blinding, and sometimes deadly poison."

"NEVER CONFRONT A KANGAROO: A kangaroo can deliver a kick powerful enough to cave in a person's chest."

You can see why first, second and third graders will eat this up. Reluctant readers will love the somewhat gory facts, and be drawn in by the pictures. The pictures are paper cuts, and they're colorful and appealing. I think Never Smile at a Monkey is a must for teachers and school librarians to have on hand.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Never read to a 4 year old 2 Dec 2009
By C. Plester - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I like the illustrations as always with Steve Jenkins books, however i did not expect the outcome of all scenarios to be serious injury or certain death!- it was initially itended for an under 4 and after reading felt it is perhaps more suitable for older age group- The book is certianly very informative but perhaps could have benefitted from some 'Light & Shade'.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good information, but NOT for young kids! 2 Dec 2009
By Liz K - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The age range for this book is 4-8 years old, so I bought a copy for each of our nephews--age 4 and 5. I'm VERY glad I read the book before giving it as a gift, because the book is really not for kids that young. I would never give this to a child younger than 10. Every page tells a story of how an animal can hurt or kill you, and that's a really scary message for young kids.

Still, the information in the book is interesting and little-known. I just wouldn't give it to young children for bedtime reading!
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