“Night Monkey, Day Monkey” by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Lucy Richards was a late bloomer in our library. After many months of lying ignored in our book bin, little gosling woke me up one morning holding it in his small hands, asking “mommy, read this!” And for days, it was on our daily core reading list.
A funny rhymed dialogue between two monkeys living in the same jungle, but each awake only during the night or during the day respectively, it underlines the particularities and differences between night and day. Some of them are so original and amusing, like thinking the moon is a flying banana or that butterflies are moths wearing make-up…Built around a repetitive structure, the two lovable, playful monkeys take turns brushing aside the other’s naivety and showing off their knowledge of the world, before agreeing to stick to their own worlds and only meet from time to time at sunrise to share a banana (“day monkey calls it breakfast, night monkey calls it tea”). I find its colourful illustrations, with simple and round shapes very appealing to very young readers.
It was this book, I believe, that fixed the notions and difference between nighttime and daylight in little gosling’s mind. He loves it that the two monkeys are waking each other up to play chase, a game he enjoys playing with mommy and daddy, and smiles mischievously when they whisper into each other’s year “you can’t catch me”. Little gosling seems more interested in the night images; he particularly enjoys the chorus of frogs mistaken for the trees being sawn into logs and promptly starts counting all those frogs. Days after reading the story, we noticed the sound made by the frogs in the park nearby. He was taken aback; stopped and just stood there for a few moments, after which, a bit anxiously, said “bebe scared”. Poor baby! He likes frogs one by one and silent better, I guess :). Bonus, it was the first time he came across moths and bats – two little animals which need further exploring.