While summer is so stealthily slipping away, I had to do yet one more summer read to encourage you to maybe slip this one in just before the last warm days of sun, surf, and sand are gone! This title is not as widely known as Wilson Rawls’ other beloved classic, Where the Red Fern Grows, but ranks as one of our family’s fondest read-aloud moments, which if you’ve been following this post, you’ll find are not so rare. But honestly, Summer of the Monkeys would definitely rank in the top ten (if you pressed me to list the top ten, which I hope you won’t!).
The beauty of Summer of the Monkeys lies in the novel’s humor mixed with the tender pathos of a coming-of-age story about young Jay Berry, who is crazy nuts about horses and can think of nothing but the ability to one day buy his very own. When a circus train collides with a railroad car near his Ozark home, a number of performing monkeys escape and resume life in the wild. The circus owners offer a reward to capture and return them to the circus and Jay Berry has his opportunity to earn the money that will make his equine dream come true. Jay’s raucous adventures with the irascible monkeys makes an entertaining family read-aloud and the heartwarming and inspiring ending had each of us choked up enough that we were having to keep passing the book from one to another in order to get through it! In a day when our children suffer little from wrenching poverty, and seldom have to be truly sacrificial in their daily lives, Jay Berry’s example becomes a poignant lesson about what is truly important in life. If you’ve read this beautifully crafted and heartfelt tale post a comment and tell us how your family responded!