Read of the Week

Nicko The Tale of a Vervet Monkey on an African Farm

Penny Haw

Random House

Review: Gail Gilbride

Nicko, a baby vervet monkey, was found abandoned on the Kirk’s farm in KwaZulu-Natal. Alice Kirk adopted the baby into her menagerie of animals and he lived among them for the rest of his life.

I was completely caught up in this delightful world, from page one. The monkey’s loving interaction with the other animals, had me reaching for my box of tissues and hoping that he’d soon draw Alice into the circle. I laughed and cried and wished I’d had a Nicko in my childhood.

The monkey is undoubtedly the star of the story, but each animal is distinctive and Haw has captured the characteristics of farm life, with deep sensitivity.

Haw’s use of Alice’s “voice”, is charming and skillful. Overall, her writing is mesmerising and entertaining.

Each chapter is perfectly paced, leaving us hanging on for the next one. The beautiful illustrations prick the imagination and children of all ages will be tempted to grab a box of crayons and colour them in. This book is the perfect addition to birthday present or Christmas stockings.

Gail Gilbride is a reader from Hout Bay who submitted this review. If you would like to send us a review, email