I’ve just finished reading the short book, The Old Man and the Monkey. I was hesitant to call it a children’s book because it is really a story for all ages. It’s a simple story, and yet it carries a powerful message about tolerance and friendship. As described on Amazon, ‘it’s an allegory of dignity in the face of racism’.
The Old Man and the Monkey, set in a tiny village in northern Japan, is about the unusual friendship of an elderly Japanese man, Genjiro, and a large and elderly snow monkey that Genjiro calls Yukitaro. The two meet in the forest near Genjiro’s home. When Genjiro tells his wife, Harue, about the friendship, she is skeptical and frightened. She and the other villagers see monkeys as dangerous pests, and it’s unheard of to have anything to do with them. But while on a picnic in the woods with her husband, Harue meets the monkey, and she begins to understand.
The book is beautifully written, and is stunning in the way it instantly takes the reader into a world that most of us have never seen. I was totally engrossed in the story, and I fell in love with all the characters. By the end of the book, I cried. Very powerful.