Review Blog

Mar 18 2020

Monkey's tail by Alex Rance

cover image

Illus. by Shane McG. Allen and Unwin, 2020 ISBN: 9781760524487.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Howler Monkey loves nothing more than to swing through the trees in the jungle with his friends, but one day a branch gives way and he falls to the ground, damaging his tail. His bandaged tail stops him climbing. He laughs with the others, but laughter cannot mask his fear that he will not climb again. One day Oldest Monkey sits next to him and says that he has noticed he is sad. Howler Monkey shares his biggest secret with the older monkey. Oldest Monkey asks him how he learnt to climb and then what most satisfies him about his ability to climb. Howler Monkey realises that it is his friends and family who make him want to climb. He loves playing with them in the trees and helping others climb just as well as he can. He loves how proud he makes his family by being good at his climbing skills.
But surely your friends and family will be just as friendly and proud of you even if you don't climb anymore, Oldest Monkey suggests. You can still play with your family and friends, you can still help others to learn to climb, you can still make people laugh and be happy.
Howler Monkey sees that it is not what you do that counts but why you do it that makes more sense. Howler Monkey parallels Alex Rance's own story of having a season ending injury in the first round of the 2019 AFL year. This story is about a life changing injury causing serious self doubts, while sharing these with others lessens their impact. Family and friends have a role to play in helping overcome concerns while Howler Monkey learns to stay positive to overcome his sadness caused by his injury.
Tiger's roar (2018) by Rance and McG promotes the same level of understanding about things going wrong in one's life. A trailer with Alex Rance is available. Themes: Monkeys, Disability, Overcoming fear, Wellness, Mental health.
Fran Knight

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