Summer of the Monkeys

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Summer of the Monkeys
First edition
Author Wilson Rawls
Country United States
Language English
Genre Children's novel
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 283
ISBN 0-440-41580-2
Preceded by Where The Red Fern Grows

Summer of the Monkeys is a 1976 children's novel written by Wilson Rawls. The book was published by Doubleday (later released by Yearling Books) and was the winner of the William Allen White Book Award and the California Young Reader Medal.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

Summer of the Monkeys is set at the end of the nineteenth century. Its hero is a 14-year-old boy, Jay Berry Lee, who had enjoyed an idyllic childhood. Born to Missouri sharecroppers, he moves with his family to Oklahoma after his grandfather offers them free land. Daisy, his twin, has a crippled leg, and her family devotes much effort to gaining enough money to pay for reconstructive surgery. One day, while looking for the family's lost milk cow, Jay Berry discovers monkeys in a nearby river bottom. Visiting his grandfather's store, he learns that the monkeys have escaped from a travelling circus, which has offered a vast reward for their capture: $100 for the chief monkey, "Jimbo", and $2 per monkey for the others. Jay Berry makes multiple attempts to capture the monkeys using traps and a net borrowed from his grandfather, but he gains only scratches and bites from the hostile Jimbo and his minions.

Under the direction of his grandfather, Jay Berry contacts the circus and is advised to attempt to befriend Jimbo. Upon returning to the monkeys' grove, he finds them around a hidden still; the drunken monkeys indeed befriend him, but their gesture of friendship is a gift of whiskey that leaves Jay Berry drunken. After returning to his shocked family, he goes with his grandfather to a nearby town to visit a library and discover alternate methods of monkey-catching. Having bought supplies, they return home, but the monkeys steal the supplies.

Daisy discovers a fairy ring, and believing it capable of granting wishes, secretly wishes that her brother may be able to buy the pony and rifle that he has long desired. Soon afterward, a fierce storm frightens the monkeys into accompanying Jay Berry into captivity, and he quickly returns them to the circus for his reward. Although he considers buying a pony and rifle, he chooses instead to finance his sister's surgery. By the conclusion, Jay Berry and his grandfather have accumulated enough money to buy him a paint pony. Daisy was able to gather enough money to get Jay Berry a .22 gun while she was in the city.

Film adaptation[edit]

Summer of the Monkeys
Directed by Michael Anderson
Produced by David Doerksen
Written by Wilson Rawls (book)
Greg Taylor (teleplay)
Jim Strain (teleplay)
Starring Michael Ontkean
Leslie Hope
Corey Sevier
Katie Stuart
Don Francks
Wilford Brimley
Music by George Blondheim
Cinematography Michael Storey
Edited by Lenka Svab
Distributed by Walt Disney Home Video
Release dates
  • December 18, 1998 (1998-12-18)
Running time
101 minutes
Country Canada
Language English

The book was made into a direct to video movie in 1998 by Walt Disney Home Video, a subsidiary of Buena Vista Home Entertainment Inc. It was directed by Michael Anderson and starred Corey Sevier as Jay Berry Lee and Wilford Brimley as Grandpa. The movie takes place in rural Canada. The film featured Canadian Pacific Railway 0-6-0 Steam Locomotive #2024, the Circus train in the film. C.P.R 2024 was an American Locomotive in the late 19th century, C.P.R 2024 was originally US Army Locomotive #4076.