Sunday 10 January 2021

Monkey Mind

Monkey Mind by Rebecca J Palmer (Little Pink Dog Books) RRP $24.99 (HB) ISBN 978-064825-6380

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

Written and illustrated by Rebecca Palmer, this picture book is for primary school readers and explores the issue of anxiety in children. Using monkeys to represent feelings, the story follows the character of Piper whose monkey is ‘playful but sometimes very, very naughty’. The monkeys are everywhere, and everyone has them, but it seems to Piper that only her monkey has a problem. Piper gets advice from others about how they keep their monkeys under control but in the end, it is up to her to find her own solution. Interesting illustrations provide a detailed and blue-tinged accompaniment throughout the book.

In the story, Piper talks to people about how they deal with their monkeys. Piper’s Dad says he distracts his monkey with a special word. Piper’s grandma tames her monkey by stopping and looking at something from nature. Piper’s aunty concentrates hard and does yoga and Danny tames his monkey by doing something fun. Piper tries all these things, but they don’t work for her. Then when she gets frustrated, everything gets worse.

The resolution that Piper works out for herself is a good one and involves her being kind to herself. That Piper must work out her own way of dealing with her feelings is realistic and encouraging. It’s a good message for a reader to take away with them.

The illustrations are varied and expressive. Early in the story a two-page spread shows people in the park with the monkeys swimming, dangling from a helicopter and skateboarding. When Piper is stressed, the pages are black and filled with white words radiating outwards. Then as Piper works things out, there’s a page full of positive affirmations around a large feather held by her monkey.

Monkey Mind is a book that could be read in primary schools or at home, especially when anxiety is a concern.

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