#tbt A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business

Each Thursday I’ll be featuring a book that my parents *could* have read to me as a toddler (spoiler alert: I’m no spring chicken), so we will go with a publication date of 1983 or earlier; all books must still be in print as of my writing.


Hats off to this classic! I shared this with my kindergarten classes every year, and there were always holds on the library’s copies for weeks afterward. Now my own Toddler Bookworm requests this one repeatedly and has a blast acting it out with me.  Author & illustrator Esphyr Slobodkina’s work is in the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she collaborated with Margaret Wise Brown (of Goodnight Moon fame) on her first book.  Not too shabby!

Title/Author: Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina

Copyright Date: 1947

Plot in a Sentence (or two): One day a peddler takes a break from selling caps to rest under a tree, but when he wakes he finds that monkeys have snatched all of his wares and carried them up into the tree; as he proceeds to try to convince the monkeys to return the caps he learns the truth of “monkey see monkey do.”

Why It’s Timeless: The humor, repetition, and antics of the peddler and the monkeys make this so much fun for shared reading! The story lends itself perfectly to acting it out, and the predictability is great for kids to jump in and offer their ideas of how each stage of the plot will progress.

While You’re Reading: I’m not sure it’s possible to read this with kids and NOT act it out! Mimicking the peddler, you can try balancing a stack of caps on your head while walking and while sitting down.  Shake your fingers & hands and stamp your feet, yelling out “Tsz, tsz, tsz” at each stage of the negotiations between peddler and monkeys. Pause and allow your bookworms to predict what may happen next; or, on subsequent readings allow them to practice sequencing of the plot.


Happy Reading!

You can find the books listed on my blog at your local library, or through the provided Amazon affiliate links. 

Thank you, Silverthorn Photography, for capturing our family reading of Caps for Sale!

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