To Catch a Monkey
A rare black-crested gibbon listed on the endangered species list escapes from a local zoo, and a $5,000 reward is posted for his safe return. Recognizing an opportunity to help her parents out since her dad has been out of work for five months, twelve-year-old Calista (Cal) Snipe asks her friend Skyler (Sky) to help her in the search for the highly prized monkey. Over a week’s time, the duo feeds the gibbon, as well as lure him to a warmer location at a nearby park, because winter is soon approaching. But while Cal and Sky innocently care for the monkey, they are unaware of spies equipped with devious plans.
Richard Read weaves in adolescent themes amid troubling economic times in his latest middle grade school novel. Although his third person narrative is purely a work of fiction, Read “incorporates situations encountered by students and children that he counseled” during his twenty-five-year stint as a high school counselor. Featuring Cal and Sky as his principal characters, Read cleverly laces in topics such as puberty and bullying, as well as the concept of building healthy boy-girl relationships, while developing his unique storyline.
There is a multitude of situations taking place within the setting to Read’s plot, which centers on the great recession that commenced in 2008. While Cal’s family appears to be headed for dire straits, Read stresses Cal’s interest in understanding current national issues that directly affect their household. Amid the changes that come with puberty, coupled with the negative effects of bullying at school, Cal is learning a something new and wonderful: compassion—not just toward her family, but also the animal world. Cal’s family may have fiscal problems, but at least they have a roof over their heads—contrary to the black-crested gibbon whom has lost much of his Southern Asian environs.
Opening each chapter with a glossary of pertinent terms, Read takes tween readers into a realistic world replete with a colorful cast. Read then alternates chapters with character scenes that highlight concurrent situations as Cal and Sky search for the gibbon. Designed for both home and school use, To Catch a Monkey is both an engaging and educational read.
|Page Count||196 pages|
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