Never Smile at a Monkey

Never Smile at Monkey

Jenkins, S. (2014). Never Smile At a Monkey: and 17 other important things to remember. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


Animals who appear cute or otherwise harmless are discussed and their truly dangerous and deadly traits are revealed as well as advice for how to avoid their attacks.


The unique paper illustrations of each animal being studied in addition to the fun and intriguing use of alliteration (i.e. “Never collect a cone shell,” “never step on a stingray,” etc.) draw the reader in to learn interesting facts about each animal combine to make this an educational and entertaining book.

Each animal is given a short paragraph describing their most effective methods of protection and attack and what to do if faced with these animals. However, further information is provided about each animal at the end of the book, furthering the discussion on their defenses, how they were probably developed, and a bit more about their feeding and living habits. There is also a section for further reading about dangerous animals that could be used to help create a lesson around this book.


From School Library Journal: “A visually stunning book illustrated with cut paper and torn collages…This superlative illustrator has given children yet another work that educates and amazes.”

From Booklist: “With his trademark cut-paper technique, Jenkins proves there may not be a texture that he can’t mimic on the page. The high-interest marriage of animals and danger, along with large, vibrant visuals, makes this a prime candidate for group sharing, and additional details and artwork at the end will flesh out some of the finer points for older children.”


Group with other books by Jenkins to further explore animals such as What to Do When Something Wants to Eat You, What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?, Biggest, Strongest, Fastest, Creature Features: Twenty-Five Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do, or Actual Size.

Group with other books about dangerous animals such as National Geographic Readers: Deadliest Animals by Melissa Stewart, Scholastic True or False: Dangerous Animals by Melvin Berger, or Deadly! The Truth About the Most Dangerous Creatures on Earth by Nicola Davies.

Have students create their own surprisingly dangerous fictitious animals, draw them, and explain how and why they are so dangerous.

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