There are some authors who are simply talented and Wilson Rawls is one of them. Author of Where the Red Fern Grows, he works adeptly with two of his favorite subjects: boys and dogs. However, in Summer of the Monkeys he deftly incorporates the priceless relationships of a boy with his grandfather, a boy with his father, and a boy with the women in his life – grandmother, mother, and sister. Yet that focus alone is not enough to make a good story, so he adds the twist of an adventure with monkeys. Along the way, the reader is swept into the Ozarks and all the escapades of an adolescent boy and his faithful canine sidekick.
Jay Berry is the son of a struggling farmer in the Ozarks, right about the time that cars were making their way into big cities. He always dreamed of owning a pony and a .22, but there just never was enough money. He contented himself with exploring the river bottoms with his faithful hound, Rowdy, and the two of them kept Jay Berry’s mom continually on edge with worry. Well, this particular summer Jay Berry and Rowdy encountered Jimbo the chimp and his flock of monkeys. They had escaped when the circus train crashed. There was a hefty reward out for the safe return and Jay Berry suddenly saw his dream about to come true. But Jimbo had other ideas and it would take Jay Berry and his grandpa all the determination and cleverness in the world to outwit him.
With many twists and turns, Wilson Rawls writes adventure, suspense, family values, and memorable life lessons that are relevant to everyone, on the hearts of his readers. After reading Summer of the Monkeys I feel like I just spent the summer with Jay Berry, Rowdy, and their family in the Ozarks and I’ve come back refreshed. I was reminded of the necessity of family and valuing the simples things.