It’s This Monkey’s Business by Debra Mares
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Justicia House; 1st edition (October 29, 2014)
“Cabana,” a young spider monkey is brought to life to tell her story It’s This Monkey’s Business to help children who are affected by domestic violence and divorce. Cabana, who lives with her parents in a treehouse high up in a rainforest canopy, becomes startled one day from her Mama’s scream, when she is waiting atop a tree branch for her Papa to teach her how to swing. After falling to the forest floor, Cabana frustrated from her parents’ fighting, decides she will search for a new family to be part of. Her persistence is cut short when she braves the river to play with a pink dolphin, unaware she cannot swim. The tragedy brings her parents together to realize they can no longer live together. Cabana reconnects with her Papa, realizing he is the only one that can teach her how to swing.
It’s This Monkey’s Business is an approximately 756 word children’s book targeting ages 4-8, which is set in a rainforest and featuring “Cabana,” a young female Spider Monkey, her parents and rainforest animals. The book is approximately 30 pages long and features full spread color illustrations.
This is a cute little book in rhyme that tells the story of Cabana, a young Spider Monkey. Cabana’s parents are always fighting and she doesn’t feel that her home is a place of love and safety. One day she falls out of a tree and decides to go find another “safer” home. As she goes through the forest she runs into a lot of different animals, but none of them are a good fit. Finally she ends up falling into a river and sinks to the bottom because she can’t swim. She’s taken to the hospital where her mom and then dad show up and finally they realize it’s not right to fight in front of her, so her dad moves out.
This book shows children that it’s ok if your parents are divorced. They will still love you and things will be much better without all the fighting going on in the house.
I read the hardback version of the book which has a lot of colorful illustrations.The book doesn’t rhyme all the time, but it’s still a very fun read that gives a very important message.
I think this book would be perfect for any child whose parents have separated.
Making Home a Safe Place For Kids And Writers
by Mama Spider Monkey (Cabana’s Mama from It’s This Monkey’s Business)
Place is an important part of childhood memories. Oftentimes, we don’t recall the birthday or Christmas gift we received growing up, but we do remember what we did and where we went. Many childhood memories also occur in the home; we may not have cared how big or small our house was growing up, but we do remember the smells and the feelings we had about home. We remember the aroma we came home to after school (a pot of chicken soup or chocolate chip cookies) and we remember the spookie times like when the bad weather caused the electricity to go out, how we counted the seconds between lightening bolts and thunder, or the scary nights mom and dad were fighting. Home can provide good childhood memories, but it can also provide hurtful ones.
As parents, it’s our responsibility to raise productive children that can go out into the world when they are old enough and be responsible and emotionally healthy. A part of raising a productive child is making home a safe place to be. It’s This Monkey’s Business highlights some of the ways Cabana’s father and I turned our home from an unsafe place into a safe place to be. We were all part of the solution to get past our past and we needed to take action to make it a safe place, instead of blaming or pointing fingers. We also both had to acknowledge our part in Cabana’s feelings of abandonment and loneliness, and address them with her. We had to remove our masks, deal with our shame and move forward to create a safe home for her.
Writers often find place and setting an important part of making a story memorable for their readers and helping it move along. Author Debra Máres selected our family to feature in her book because she could relate to us. Like Cabana, Debra was a child of domestic violence. Debra has shared childhood stories of holding her stuffed monkey Zip, who reminds her of Cabana, tightly under her blankets at night as her parents fought in the room next to her. Writing is a safe outlet for her and she can write stories to fix her past and help other kids. The rainforest also had significance to Debra who has traveled extensively through South America observing jungle animals like toucans and monkeys along the way. For her, a rainforest setting, felt like home for her story, so that she could explore childhood domestic violence and tackle the issue in a safe place. When writing about sensitive issues, it’s important for the reader to trust the narrator and the author. By selecting our family and rainforest home, Debra found a safe place to be where she could fix her past, while we fixed ours in It’s This Monkey’s Business.
About The Author:
For Independent Author Debra Mares, violence against women is not only a topic in today’s news, it’s a topic in her crime novels, cases she handled as a county prosecutor, and now it will be the topic in her first children’s book It’s This Monkey’s Business. Debra is a veteran county prosecutor in Riverside currently specializing in community prosecution, juvenile delinquency and truancy. Her office has one of the highest conviction rates in California and is the fifteenth largest in the country. You name it – she’s prosecuted it – homicides, gang murders, domestic violence, sex cases, political corruption, major fraud and parole hearings for convicted murderers. She is a two-time recipient of the County Prosecutor of the Year Award and 2012 recipient of the Community Hero Award.
Debra is the granddaughter of a Mexican migrant farm worker and factory seamstress, was born and raised in Los Angeles, was the first to graduate college in my family, and grew up dancing Ballet Folklorico and Salsa. Her own family story includes struggles with immigration, domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse and teen pregnancy, which she addresses in her novels. She followed a calling at 11 years old to be an attorney and voice for women, and appreciates international travel and culture. Her life’s mission is to break the cycle of victimization and domestic violence.
Debra is also the co-founding Executive Director of Women Wonder Writers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization implementing creative intervention and mentoring programs for at-risk youth. In 2012, Debra self-published Volume 1 of her debut legal thriller series, The Mamacita Murders featuring Gaby Ruiz, a sex crimes prosecutor haunted by her mother’s death at the hands of an abusive boyfriend. In 2013, Debra released her second crime novel, The Suburban Seduccion, featuring “The White Picket Fence” killer Lloyd Gil, who unleashes his neonatal domestic violence-related trauma on young women around his neighborhood.
To bring to life “Cabana,” Debra partnered with 16-year-old Creative Director Olivia Garcia and Los Angeles based professional illustrator Taylor Christensen.
16-year-old Creative Director Olivia Garcia attends high school in Panorama City, California, is the Los Angeles youth delegate for the Anti-Defamation League’s National Youth Leadership Mission in Washington D.C., an ASB member and AP student and enjoys reading, crafting and knitting.
Taylor Christensen is a Los Angeles-based illustrator holding a BFA from Otis College of Art & Design, focuses on fantastical creatures and surreal imagery, and produces artwork for illustration, character and concept design.
Her latest book is the children’s picture book, It’s This Monkey’s Business.