There Were Monkeys In My Kitchen!

By Sheree Fitch

By far one of my favorite books from when I was a child. Sheree Fitch, if I was to be asked, is one of the best children’s author out there, especially when it comes to her poetry. Books like Toes in My Nose, or Mable Murple are classics. If you do not have a book by Sheree in your collection, you need to run out now and read one.

There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen! is a zany tale about¬†Willa Wellowby who wakes up and find her house has been invaded by a myriad of different types of monkeys (including, but not limited to, gorillas, orangutangs, baboons, and chimpanzees), who are busy causing ally types of mischief. They’re bouncing basketballs, playing bagpipes on her bed, taking bubblebaths! And no matter how many times Willa calls the beloved Canadian institution, the RCMP, no one seems around to help her.

The entire book is written in rhyming couplets, which makes it a complete joy to read aloud. It’s bouncy, fun, and flows. The whole book follows the same tempo, without the need for awkward gear shifts.

The illustrations, provided by Marc Mongeau, fit the story perfectly. The colours are fantastic, and the linework is wonky and silly – which is a perfect fit for this story. The scene were Willa winds up in the bath with such a silly look on her face is priceless, and has to be one of my favorite illustrations ever.

There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen! won the Mr Christie Award in 2002 for Best Children’s Book (ages 8 and under). I would recommend this book for 3-5, though there are some vocabulary that will undoubtedly stump your child. The vocabulary never seems forced, and you get to pull double duty: entertaining and educating your young one! Without them knowing it, even! Seriously, parents, does it get any better then that?

If you want to hear the poem before you rush out and buy this eloquent tome, here’s a youtube video of Sheree Fitch reciting There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen!

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

By Roald Dahl

One of the great classics of children’s fiction is the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Most of us know the story: Charlie lives with his parents and both sets of grandparents. One day, Willy Wonka announces a contest that sends five golden tickets around the world; the five children who finds a ticket will be able to enter on the appointed day and get a tour of the factory.

The brilliance of Roald Dahl lies, for me, in his ability to craft over-the-top, and yet somehow relatable, characters, both in the main character and the supporting cast.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is not a long story, but it covers an incredible amount in its pages. Familiar motifs play out in the pages in a whimsical style. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has that elusive, coveted timeless quality, and is appealing to a large age range.

Suggested Ages: 5-12

Dahl, R. (1998). Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Penguin Young Reader Group.

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Slugs in Love

By Susan Pearson

A tale of star-crossed slugs. Marylou is a shy slug with a crush on Herbie. One day, she writes a love poem to Herbie on a watering can, and Herbie sees it. Thus begins a back-and-forth game; Marylou leaves Herbie a love poem, and he responds, only for some occurance to keep Marylou from seeing his reply. Will they ever meet?

The pictures are cartoony but impressive, and interact well with the text; each poem is written on something in the picture. In his final letter, Herbie climbs all the way to the top of the tallest tomato plant and leaves his message on a series of plants.

The story is simple and easy for young children to understand, and they will enjoy the poetry and silly slug faces.

Suggested Age: 3-5

 Pearson, S. (2006). Slugs in Love. Marshall Cavendish.

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