Juvenile David Ives Monsieur Eek

ISBN 13: 9780060295295

Monsieur Eek

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9780060295295: Monsieur Eek

The Great And Glorious Coastal city of MacOongafoondsen (population twenty-one) lies sheltered from the world. Some citizens, like Fierfl the Tailor and Miss Darkniss the Candle Maker, have never even seen the sea. Then a ship washes up with a lone survivor -- a small, odd, hairy figure the townspeople take for a Frenchman and call Monsieur Eek.

While thirteen-year-old Emmaline and her best friend, Philip, welcome Monsieur Eek, devious Shmink the Bailiff has other plans. In short order the newcomer is arrested as a foreign spy and put on trial for his life. Emmaline mounts a spirited defense. But as the town's fear of foreigners (and Frenchmen) grows, it seems that nothing will save her new friend.

In his first book for young readers, noted playwright and humorist David Ives makes a memorable debut, creating a sparkling fable, moving and funny, about two young people who risk everything to change the minds -- and the history -- of an entire town.

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Review:

On a dark and stormy night in 1609, young Emmaline Perth's wish for something "significant" to be blown her way comes true. Soon, the great coastal city of MacOongafoondsen (population 21) discovers an unexpected visitor by way of a beached ship. No one knows quite what to make of the ship, nor of its sole inhabitant. "So that's what a Frenchman looks like!" says Bob the Milkmaid. Shmink the Bailiff has already illogically determined that the ship must hail from France. With breathtaking stupidity, the town leaders promptly decide that this "Frenchman"--really a chimpanzee--is a thief and a spy, and take him into custody: "You will be held until your trial in my dank and rat-filled cellar," Shmink announces. "You will be treated humanely, given a fair trial, found guilty, and shot until you are dead." (When Luigi the Carpenter's Husband reminds him that there are no guns in MacOongafoondsen, Shmink amends the punishment to hanging.) Fortunately, wise Emmaline and her friend Young Flurp the Town Fool will have none of this. Justice will be served, but not until they've experienced some high adventure beneath the city in an underground river, upstairs in Shmink's filthy house, in a haunted castle, and by the gallows in a last-ditch effort to save Monsieur Eek, the chimp.

In his first foray into children's fiction, well-known playwright David Ives marries the absurd with a very real message about justice and equality. The truly remarkable citizens of MacOongafoondsen are what make this story "spec-tac-ular" (as Emmaline's dear departed father used to say). There's Ongka the Fat Bread Maker, who is thin and shapely, but she makes fat loaves of bread. Then there's Minister Moonster the Minister (who is Plain Willum the Weaver on weekdays), Kawasaki the Left-Handed Farmer, Barbara the Carpenter, and Mayor Ignoratius B. Overbite, each unique and memorable in his or her own way. Highly recommended. (Ages 9 and older) --Emilie Coulter

About the Author:

David Ives was born in Chicago and educated at Northwestern University and Yale School of Drama. A Guggenheim Fellow in playwriting, he is probably best known for his evening of one-act comedies called "All In the Timing". The show won the Outer Critics Circle Playwriting Award, ran for two years Off-Broadway, and in the 1995-96 season was the most-performed play in the country after Shakespeare productions. His short plays are collected in two anthologies, "All In the Timing" (Vintage) and "Time Flies" (Grove). His full-length works for theatre are available in "Polish Joke and Other Plays" (Grove). He is also the author of a young adult novel, Monsieur Eek (HarperCollins), the almost-true story of how a chimpanzee got mistaken for a Frenchman.

David Ives is an Artistic Associate at Encores!, the celebrated forum for great American musicals at City Center, New York, where to date he has adapted 15 of their shows. He adapted David Copperfield's "Dreams and Nightmares" for Broadway, wrote the book for "Dance of the Vampires", the Jim Steinman Broadway musical, and is the co-bookwriter of "Irving Berlin's White Christmas", which premiered in San Francisco to huge acclaim in winter 2004. He lives in New York City with his wife Martha.

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