The story begins….There is a forgotten part of the world, where a deep lush jungle grows on a misty mountaintop. Hidden in this rain forest are the tallest trees in the universe and living in these trees is a family of monkeys who love each other and their home.
What Book Next ~ A beautifully illustrated bedtime book which takes young listeners around the world with the main character, a young monkey called Nicnic. Word-play, alliteration and imagination inside of a dream are key components of this story, including some complicated words that can be talked about on further readings. This widens the readership of the book which would make a gorgeous bedtime read for siblings aged from 3 to 6. Appreciation is an important theme, as Nicnic realises the true magic of his parent’s bedtime ritual with him.
KidsBooksNZ ~ The text is told on a white background and on the opposite page is a full page illustration. Some of the animals have large eyes, to make them look cuter. The best illustration is the one with a large lion licking the monkey. The picture reminds me of Jerry Pinkney’s stunning lion illustration in ‘The Lion and the Mouse’. Jonathan layered the illustrations using spray, acrylic paint, water colours and another layer of spray. A beautiful book with a mythical tale, which would make a great read-aloud in class or in the bedroom.
Meet the Kiwi author
This beautifully illustrated story about the importance of the simple things is the debut picture book from renowned Auckland architect Jonathan Smith.
Jonathan Smith was born in Singapore in the days when the jungle still existed and you could hear the howler monkeys call during the long hot evenings. Snakes were often found in the bathtub or wrapped around the car axle. It was therefore a bit of a climate shock to move to Wellington in his early years. Jonathan and his family travelled extensively throughout New Zealand in the family Hillman Hunter, and ended up in Auckland for his high school years. His English grandfather was a fireman and builder, and he was a part of Jonathan’s inspiration when he decided to become an architect at the age of 9, and his studies followed this path.
From a young age Jonathan has been fascinated with storytelling in all its fantastic forms, movies, artwork, books, architecture, sculpture, and so on. In his architecture practice they always attempt to create a narrative in their projects, a thread that runs through the design. Writing this story has provided Jonathan with an amazing freedom while also securing a connection to what it once felt like to have the unconstrained mind of a child. Imagination and curiosity are superpowers that children have in abundance, holding onto these gifts can be tricky, especially in today’s world of over connectivity and busyness.
Jonathan’s son and wife have been the primary inspiration for this story. His son, Nic, was born while they were moving around a lot between Ponsonby and Waterview. From a young age Jonathan and his wife began the ritual of music and story appreciation during bath and bedtimes, this story was distilled during these moments.