Summer Of The Monkeys The last thing a fourteen-year-old boy expects to find along an Ozark river bottom is a tree full of monkeys. Jay Berry’s grandpa had an explanation, of course-as he did for most things. The monkeys had escaped from a circus, and there was a handsome reward in the store for anyone who could catch them. Grandpa said there wasn’t any animal that couldn’t be caught somehow, and Jay Berry started out believing him. But by the end of “the summer of the monkeys,” Jay Berry Lee had learned a lot more than he ever bargained for- and not just about monkeys.
He learned about faith, and wished coming true, and knowing what it is you really want. This novel, set in rural Oklahoma around the turn of the century, is a funny and heartwarming family story about a time and place when miracles were really the simplest things. Up until Jay Berry was fourteen years old, no other boy on earth could have been happier. He didn’t have a worry in the world. But, just when things were really looking good for him, something happened.
He got mixed up with a bunch of monkeys. Those monkeys all but drove him out of his mind. He should have kept this monkey trouble to himself, but he got his grandpa mixed up in it. He even coaxed Rowdy, his old blue tick hound, into helping him with his monkey trouble. At the time, the Lee family was living in a brand-new country that had just been opened up for settlement.
They had moved there when Jay Berry was only two years old. He and his twin sister, Daisy, were born in Oklahoma City. He was born healthy, but Daisy came out with here right leg all twisted. She was going to be a cripple. The farm they lived on was called Cherokee Nation.
It lay in a strip from the foothills of the Ozark Mountains to the banks of the Illinois River in northeastern Oklahoma. That was probably the last place in the world that anyone would expect to find a bunch of monkeys. During breakfast one morning, the Lee family’s milk cow, Sally Gooden, ran off. Jay Berry was sent out to look for her. He found the family’s milk cow and the monkeys deep in the bottoms. He had never seen a monkey anywhere expect in a book. He had no explanation, nor did his father, for the monkeys’ being.
His grandpa and grandma were living down in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, also. They owned one of those big country stores that had everything in it. Jay Berry ran to his grandpa’s store and told him about the monkeys down in the bottoms. His grandpa explained everything to him, including the reward for the monkeys. About two weeks earlier, two men stopped by the store.
They belonged to a circus train that was wrecked over on a railroad. One of the cars jumped the track and busted wide open. There were some valuable monkeys in that car, and a lot of them got away. They caught all but about thirty of the monkeys. They were offering a reward of two dollars a piece for all but one of the monkeys. That last one was worth one hundred dollars.
That was a lot of money back then. Jay Berry had always wanted a .22 and a pony. That money was just enough. The last monkey’s name was Jimbo and he was a lot bigger than the other monkeys. They were all worth a lot because they had been trained for acts in a circus.
The last monkey was worth a hundred dollars because he was real smart. The men from the circus had said he was almost human. There was a catch, however. The monkeys had to be taken alive with no harm done to them. Jay Berry’s grandpa first came up with a plan to catch them with traps that with the teeth all padded so it wouldn’t hurt. Jay Berry tried it out the next morning and used apples as bait.
The monkeys were about to fall for the trap, but Jimbo came along and got the apples while avoiding the traps. He knew there were traps because he had been sitting in the trees the whole time. He was like their leader. Jay Berry was very disappointed and went to get a drink at a spring. When he went back to get his stuff, it was gone.
He heard the Jimbo chattering and looked up. The monkey was jumping up and down with Jay Berry’s sack in his hand. There was nothing he could do so he went home and ate dinner. Then he went back to his grandpa’s store for more advice. His grandpa gave him a net that could open and close by pulling certain strings. Jay Berry went to sleep early that night, for he had to get up before dawn the next morning. This time Jay Berry almost caught two monkeys.
He caught them in the net and was about to leave when it started raining monkeys. Jimbo blocked their path and kept Jay Berry and Rowdy from leaving. But when Jay Berry and Rowdy tried to fight them, the monkeys fought back. While the small monkeys swarmed Jay Berry and Rowdy, Jimbo managed to sneak in and get the two monkeys trapped in the net free. Because the monkeys had bitten Jay Berry and Rowdy so many times, they got sick. They were ill for about four days.
When he was well again he went back to his grandpa’s store. This time his grandpa suggested talking to Jimbo and getting the small monkeys to follow along. Jay Berry and Rowdy found them the next day. The monkeys had found some sour mash and were drinking it. When Jay Berry arrived, Jimbo and the other monkeys were too drunk to be scared.
Jimbo offered Jay Berry and Rowdy a drink. They tried to refuse, but that only got Jimbo angry, so they had to drink it. After a few drinks they fell asleep. When they woke up, they were both drunk. Jimbo had also stolen Jay Berry’s britches. Jay Berry had to walked home half-naked.
When he got home he got in trouble for getting drunk. Both he and Rowdy were sick again. He went to see his grandpa again, but this time he was out of ideas. They were going to have to go to the library in town. At the library, his grandpa found the right book.
It told them that all monkeys loved coconuts. His grandpa bought half a bushel. On there way back to the farm, they stopped by the same spring Jay Berry lost his things. While they were getting a drink, the monkeys stole the coconuts. But they left behind the things they had stolen from Jay Berry before.
Jay Berry had almost forgotten about the monkeys, but then a freak storm hit the bottoms. Jay Berry could only think about the monkeys. If they drown in the storm, he wouldn’t get the reward money. If he didn’t get the reward money, then he wouldn’t get his gun or pony. So when the storm blew over, he and Rowdy went out in search of the monkeys. At first, they couldn’t find a trace of them anywhere, but then they heard a low moan.
Rowdy traced the sound to the riverbanks. Jay Berry looked in and saw Jimbo with his arms wrapped around some small monkeys. The others were all cuddled together trying to stay warm. Some even looked like they were close to death. He pulled them all out into the sun and Rowdy licked most of them dry. He got Jimbo to follow him to his house.
The rest of the monkeys followed in line. It was if the monkeys had wanted to be caught. He made them a bed out of hay in the corncrib. His mother brought them a lot of warm milk to drink. The monkeys slept for the next two days.
While they were asleep, Jay Berry visited his grandpa’s store and told him everything. His grandpa sent a telegram to the two men from the circus and they came to the Lee family’s farm the next day. They took the monkeys away in a truck and gave Jay Berry his one hundred and fifty-six dollars. He gave six dollars to his sister, Daisy. Then he ran to his grandpa’s store to get his pony. His grandpa had two horses, a roan gelding and a paint mare.
The roan was a strong and muscular male. The paint was a sleek female. When Jay Berry and Rowdy first saw them, they went right for the paint, but then they found out she was a cripple. After a long while, Jay Berry decided to take the paint anyways. His grandpa had said the paint would be as good as new in a few weeks.
She cost him seventy-five dollars. But when he was right in front of the house, he looked at the paint’s leg and realized he had made a big mistake. He remembered Daisy’s cripple leg and took the horse back to his grandpa. That night Jay Berry, his grandparents, and his parents put all their money together. His parents and grandparents had been saving up money to fix Daisy’s leg for a long time.
Jay Berry’s grandparents and mother, along with Daisy, went to Oklahoma City. They were there for six weeks. During that time, Jay Berry and his father had to run the barn and his grandpa’s store. Then one day they got a letter saying Daisy and Jay Berry’s mother would be coming in on the afternoon train. Jay Berry, Rowdy, and his papa met them there.
When Daisy got off the train, he leg was straight. You couldn’t even tell which leg was twisted before the operation. They hugged and kissed then got on their wagon and went home. When they got to the front of the house, they saw grandpa standing in front of the corncrib with holding the reins to the paint mare that Jay Berry had wanted. He gave the horse to Jay Berry and Daisy gave him a brand new .22.
She got it while she was in Oklahoma City. In a few weeks, Jay Berry was riding his pony through the hills and down in the bottoms. I thought this was a good book. I would recommend this book. I liked it.