Monday, March 3, 2008

Monkey and Me: Multiple editions

About a month and a half ago, I made a list of new books that I'm looking forward to. One of the books on my list was Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett.

I saw the book in October very briefly during a meeting with a publisher rep and loved it instantly. It has great rhythm, bounce, repetition and is perfect for little kids. Hopefully, one day soon it will be released as a board book.

A few months later, I was lucky enough to visit Powells, the legendary independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon. And, as I walked into the children's section, what did I see but Monkey and Me? I knew wasn't being published by Simon and Schuster until March so I did a little checking. I found out that what Powells had for sale was the British edition of the book, which had already been published by Macmillan. I was thrilled to see it so early, and I snapped it right up. I've been reading it to my son since and he loves it.

It's March now, and the American edition has finally been released. I eagerly took it out of the box when it arrived at the store I work at, and went to show it to my colleagues. And you know what? When I got to the last page, I found that it was different than the British edition I've been reading with my son. There's a very small change, but it's a change nonetheless.

The British edition ends like this:
We went... (turn the page)
...home for tea."

The American edition ends like this:
We went... (turn the page)

The illustration on the last page is the same, and it shows the protagonist (a cute little girl) fast asleep in front of her snack. But the "ZZZZZ" changes the rhythm of the original, and doesn't work as well when you're reading it aloud.

I don't know why this bugs me, but it does. I think American kids could figure it out... and books are precisely where you learn about customs from other countries. Mr. Gumpy's Outing, a wonderful classic by John Burmingham (a British author) mentions tea at the end, and I've never heard of anyone being confused by it.

Regardless, if you have little kids, definitely check out Monkey and Me. It's a great storytime and read aloud book for ages 1-4.


  1. OH NO! That bums me out, too. I LOVE that book. Really, it's flawless.

    I read it to a huge group of pre-schoolers last summer, too, and I'm sure they weren't left baffled by the tea part. They loved it, in fact. It's great for audience participation.

    Too bad.

  2. ZZZZZ? That's a travesty! Even "We went...home to sleep" would have been better than zzzzz. I really like Emily Gravett, but I think I'll seek out the British edition of this one.

  3. Oh, I hate when they do that kind of thing. Kids still have tea parties. They wouldn't be confused.

  4. I'm putting it on reserve at the library right now!

    It's a shame about the last line changing. Talk about underestimating your audience!

    Besides, I'm never sure what to do when I see "zzzzzz" in a book. Since this one rhymes, I guess you just have to say "zzzzzz." But sometimes a snorty snore works better!

  5. Jules- I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way! I really think it was lovely as it was and just didn't need to be changed.

    Anamaria- I think they used "ZZZZZ" because it rhymes with the word "me." But it just interrupts the visual flow for me.

    Adrienne- I hate this kind of think too. It's not actually a tea party at the end... she's just eating yogurt and a banana, but I really think kids could figure it out.

    Lisa C.- It's one of those books that may not do much for an adult reading it... it's really all about reading it aloud and having the kids identify each animal.

    I never know what to do with the word "zzzzz" either.

  6. Oh my. It never occured to me to pronounce ZZZZZ as "zzee!" I always say something like "zziz" when I encounter z's in a read-aloud. Not the first time I've been surprised by something I've only read (and never heard spoken) being pronounced differently aloud. And I thought "sleep" would be an assonant rhyme at least! Now I feel silly.

  7. Anamaria- Don't feel silly! Zzzzz is a very odd "word" to use as a rhyme.

  8. I always treat zzz as an invitation to fake-snore.