Friday, June 19, 2009

Yes, I Know the Monkey Man

I have had quite a bit of free reading time today as I sat at the pool and watched my kids play. This always makes me very happy and it's even better when I am reading a book that I just can't put down. Dori Hillestad Butler wrote Do You Know the Monkey Man? that I read this past fall since it was a contender for the Iowa Children's Choice Book Award. I loved the suspense in this story. In this book Sam and her mother live in Clearwater, Iowa. When Sam was just three years old her twin sister died in a boating accident. After that her parents divorced and she never saw her father again. Sam's mom never talks about what happened and Sam longs to know more. She also doesn't quite believe that her sister is dead. So, she starts doing a little snooping on her own. As an adult reading this book I could anticipate what the outcome of this story would be - I am not sure kids will be able to do that quite as quickly- but I loved the suspense Butler created.
Yes, I Know the Monkey Man is the sequel to this first book and just as interesting as the first. This time the story is told in TJ's perspective - I hate to be a spoiler- but TJ is what Sam's twin sister, Sarah, goes by. The T stands for Tara. TJ and her father live in Minneapolis where they finally seem to be living with some sense of normalcy. Her dad has a reliable job, they are living in a real house, and her grandmother is in a nursing home there. When her father sustains a disabling injury at work he asks TJ to lie for him so that they can continue to be together. During the time her father is recovering in the hospital TJ leaves for a scheduled visit to her newly located mother, Suzanne, who is getting married and wants her long lost daughter with her for her wedding. While she is gone TJ has to decide if she is going to continue lying about her situation at home, or whether she will let her new family try and help her.

This story ended leaving me still hoping for another book to carry on Sam and TJ's story. I read almost the entire thing in one sitting and then have quickly sat down to read the rest this evening. Do You Know the Monkey Man? was very popular in my school library and I can hardly wait to send this home with the students who loved Butler's first book.

The fact that Butler is an Iowa author is also a bonus - I love supporting local talent - and enjoyed the fact that the story takes place in a setting with which I am familiar. Visit her website to find out more about her work.

To find out more about the Iowa Childrens Choice Award, visit their website.

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