One of the things I look forward to doing in summer is reading a lot more. Not just for myself, but with my children, too. Last year we read the entire Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, staying up late into the night. This year we haven't been doing quite as well. While we did start a read aloud that my children are totally engaged in (Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls), we have missed some nights of reading because we have been up late doing other things. And sometimes we only read ten pages or so. This book is unfortunately wordy, taking 2-3 minutes per page to be read aloud. By the time we have made any progress, it is fairly late and time to stop reading.
Two nights ago we polished off this book. And we pulled our first marathon reading session. With 30 pages left, we started our reading.
Without giving away the entire story, the basic plot summary is that the boy, Jay Berry, is growing up in the Ozarks in the 1880s. His sister Daisy has a crippled leg, the result of trauma at birth. When a bunch of circus monkeys escape into the woods of the Ozarks, Jay sets out to capture them and earn the reward money so he can finally purchase his dream horse and gun. There are a lot of problems before Jay is able to achieve this and when the monkeys are finally captured, Jay has to think hard about whether the horse and gun are things he truly wants, or if he should help his sister by using the reward money to pay for the surgery to correct his sister's leg.
While I had already read this book before and knew how the story ends, leaving a chapter to read the next night was far more than my middle daughter could bear. At one point, she was sobbing, not enjoying the fact that Jay Berry might not end up with a happily ever after ending. And so we read on.
My youngest daughter is not old enough to really "get it" yet, but the older two were happily telling me the next day how much they enjoyed Summer of the Monkeys. I had picked up a video of the movie version of Summer of the Monkeys at a library sale and had to hear a lot of whining throughout the month of June about how I should let them watch the movie before we finished the book. Mean mom that I am, I told them we had to finish the book first. Last night they started the movie, watched for a while, and were screaming in fear every little while. Before too long they were outside playing, explaining to me that the movie really wasn't much like the book.
This book may not be a popular title that many of their friends will ever get to hear, but it is well worth the time. Rawls more popular novel, Where the Red Fern Grows, will be on my list of read alouds for them sometime in the future, but Summer of the Monkeys was just perfect for us right now.