I discovered Steve Jenkins’ Never Smile at a Monkey: And 17 Other Important Things to Remember on The Book Design Review blog. It’s listed there as a favorite book cover for 2009.
The cover alone didn’t attract my attention but also the 18 interior, cautionary maxims that feel appropriate during this time of New Year’s resolutions. Yes, let us declare never to smile at a monkey, stare at a spitting cobra, touch a tang or corner a cassowary.
The point of this children’s book is there are dangerous animals we know to avoid, and there are dangerous animals we don’t realize are dangerous. Like the rhesus monkey, who will interpret your show of smiling teeth as aggression and respond violently. And the shy cassowary that can deliver a lethal kick with its sharply clawed feet.
Who knew? I didn’t. Never Smile at a Monkey: And 17 Other Important Things to Remember is a children’s picture book, but’s it fun for curious adults, too. The illustrations of the animals are collages of cut and torn paper.