“The Monkey Book”
Del Rio, Texas
Wow! The books I like the most are full of pictures, or at least drawings, just like this one. And I got it right out of Mrs. Gunkle's little library that she has right in the back of our fifth grade classroom at North Heights. She said that we can check out any books we want and that we can take them home and read ‘em for free. We're just not supposed to take home more than two at a time so that everyone in class has a chance to read and read and read. I love it!
Of course, I actually hate to read. I just love what's in each book if I can only find a way to get it out withOUT a lot of reading. That's where pictures and drawings come in!
I need to tell you, though, I am actually an excellent reader! In the first through third grades here at North Heights I was the solo narrator of our class plays. I could clearly read out all of the words--even the big ones -and all of the people in the school auditorium could hear me. ALL of them!
Last year, though, the teachers gave me an assistant narrator, Tanya Lemon, I guess because she's a pretty good reader too. Or maybe they just wanted to have a girl narrator added in. I don't know, but I’m sure I'll be back to solo narrator this year again. I'm that good!
But-----just sitting down and reading a book is really hard. I usually daydream while I'm reading, and then I forget what I just read by the time I turn the page. It makes me mad when my day dreams come in and do that, and I usually just slam the book down and quit.
Like I said, though, this book is different. It's got lots of monkey picture drawings, and from the front of the book to the back, they're all gradually changing.
There aren’t many words, but I’ve figured out that the book is talking about some guy named “Charles Darwin” who has figured out how God managed to create people. He discovered that monkeys somehow did what he calls, “evolved,” and zappo! Out came the first man! Adam I guess.
Anyway, I think the book said that Mr. Darwin found some really old skulls and stuff and from them he proved all this. Is that Cool or what? Even better, I didn’t ever get confused or lost while I read the words of this book. I know what each page is saying, and I can’t wait to get it back to school and tell all my friends that they need to read this book too.
Oh well, I gotta go do my Math homework now, and that means that I’ll have to go to the kitchen table where I can work all the problems on paper. I don’t like to do any homework, but IF I have to do some, Math is my favorite. I’ll just leave this book right here in the den until I pack up all my stuff for school tomorrow.
As I’m sitting down at the table with my paper, my math book opened to the right homework problems and my pencil all sharp and ready, Mom walks in from the front garden and seems to hesitate in the den.
“Billy, where did you get this book?”
“Oh, Mom! That’s the coolest book! I got it from Mrs. Gunkle’s library at school.”
Dead quiet for a few minutes while I start working through my first problem.
“Billy, could you come here for a few minutes. There’ll be time for your other homework after we talk.”
Hmmm! What in the world?
So, I lay down my pencil and walk on in to the den. There she’s sitting in Daddy’s easy chair with my little library book in her lap, and she’s sorta staring up at the ceiling as if to ask God some questions. That’s not unusual for her – or me. As I sit down on our big brown sleeper couch, she looks back down from the ceiling and takes a big breath.
“Billy, you’ve done nothing wrong, but I need to explain some things to you. First, have you read this book?”
“Yes Ma’am, and it’s….”
She interrupts me in a way that makes it seem like she isn’t too interested in the book at all.
She also keeps on holding the book in both hands, though, and it looks like her grip is pretty tight.
“I have a feeling that you have enjoyed reading this…”
And I take a quick breath so that I can tell her more about it, but I have to just hold on to it because she doesn’t seem to want to hear anything from me yet.
“Billy, this book is not a good book. I don’t know why it’s in your teacher’s library, but I want you to understand that not everyone believes the way we do. Please go get me that big picture Bible Story book.”
Man! I never thought we’d be having this conversation. She said that I’ve done nothing wrong, but it sure doesn’t feel like it right now.
“Open it up to the beginning, and read verses 26 through 28.” she softly commands.
I can do THIS – I AM a great out-loud reader!
“ 26. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
“27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
“28. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
“Thank you Billy.” she starts out. “You remember when you first started going to Beginners Sunday School at church?”
“Yes Ma’am, but…”
“Billy, listen to me. Not everyone believes the way we do, and Mr. Darwin is wrong! Do you hear me? He Is Wrong!”
“Ok.” And I now officially hate this conversation.
I love Mrs. Gunkle. She gives us almost no homework to do, and when she does, it’s usually just Math practice problems – which I love. She’s so sweet to me and everyone else. She teaches us everything we need to know to finish our schooling at North Heights. She talks to us about her husband and the Air Force, and she allows us to take home great books like this one. Well I guess NOT like this one…
“Billy, you’re going to find out that many, many people believe in this thing called the ‘The Theory of Evolution.’ But that’s just it. It’s a theory – only a theory--and while there MAY be some truth in it, the conclusions are all wrong. Don’t believe it. We did Not come from monkeys, and no proof – no matter how slim – has Ever been found to support that. Nor will it EVER be found. It’s just not there.”
“The Bible is our guide through life, and these very words tell us how Adam and Eve, the first man and woman were formed. They were formed by God’s breath. He spoke everything into being! Everything!
“So, please don’t worry about this. I’ll talk to your teacher, and you won’t be in trouble at all. You’re not in trouble here either. You didn’t know when you were attracted to this book, but now you do. I don’t want you reading any more of it, and I’ll speak with your teacher. Now go do your Math homework while I fix supper.”
Then, I HAVE to say something, “But Mom, I have to take the Monkey Book back tomorrow. That’s the rule.”
“Don’t worry, Billy. You won’t get in any trouble. I’ll call Mrs. Gunkle and let her know that I’ll bring it back tomorrow while you are at lunch. She won’t mind. I know she’s a nice lady, and I know that she also loves you, but we have to straighten this out gown up-to-grown up.”
Finishing up my Math homework is harder than usual because I am so upset, but I keep remembering what she said, “You won’t be in any trouble with Mrs. Gunkle. ”But I hope that Mom won’t be in any trouble either. And I hate it when different grown ups tell me two different things.
Who am I going to believe?
I guess I better believe Mom. She’s been around a lot longer than Mrs. Gunkle, and she’ll still be here next year when Mrs. Gunkle is gone.
- Present Day -
I never saw that little book again, and Mrs. Gunkle never said anything about it. There were lots of conversations at home, however – conversations about the things of God. About how much He loves us, and yes, even about how much He loves those who don’t believe in Him--or His Word.
In my case, I choose to believe! I believe in Him, and I believe His Word – all of it. Period.
William Richard Meredith