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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Koko the Monkey

One group of readers that is not very well catered for is children. This is understandable in some ways because their needs change so fast after they go to school. Simple facts give way to conceptual thinking and mind games as they get older, so it certainly is not ‘one size fits all’ as you hear in the clothing shop.
The book reviewed this week is “Koko the Monkey, Lost in Bangkok” (ISBN 974-90630-0-7, Sirivatana Interprint, 3rd edition 2008) and written by Janice Santikarn and illustrated by Prateep Paisarnnan.
Mrs. Santikarn has six other children’s books to her credit and has a most interesting background, holding Maths/Science teaching degrees as well as a PhD in Chemistry and has worked in the USA as a research scientist. She also has three children, and with that very varied background, it probably does make her the ideal person to write children’s books.
The story line for this children’s tale is really a tour of some of the most noted landmarks in Bangkok, and they are all brought together by Koko, a little monkey which comes from the jungle and is lost in the nation’s capital. Amongst these landmarks are the Hualamphong railway station, a tuk-tuk, Chinatown, the Giant Swing, the Grand Palace, a longtail boat, the Temple of the Dawn (Wat Arun), the Memorial Bridge, the Flower Market, the Dusit Zoo and even a talking coconut palm tree.
Koko goes through several adventures before finally finding himself back in his jungle where he belongs, and not only that, finds his mother as well. All children’s books should have a warm and fuzzy ending, and this one does just that.
One of the aspects that I liked with this book is the way Janice Santikarn takes her young readers through little games, where, for example, the Temple of the Dawn says to Koko, who is desperately looking for his real home, “Your home is tall and brown like me, but your home is also green on top.” It is then that Koko sees the Memorial Bridge, which is tall and brown and green on top. Unfortunately for Koko, the Memorial Bridge is not his home either, but Koko does not give up, following his trail of clues as each landmark passes him on to another clue.
The book was on the Bookazine shelves with an RRP of B. 300, which is not expensive for a beautifully presented hardcover book with sturdy stitching - always an important factor when buying books for children. This would make an excellent present for any child around the age of five and especially one who has been to, or lives in, Bangkok. For me, this book was a very welcome change from Jack and the Beanstalk with its frightening cast of ogres and giants, as although the little reader will be anxious that Koko finds his real home, there is nothing in the book to engender nightmares in young children. The illustrations are also very well done, and Koko has a most appealing face.
Yes, I liked this book very much, and so will your young children.