Monkey Town: The Summer of the Scopes Trial
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Monkey Town: The Summer of the Scopes Trial

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  257 ratings  ·  52 reviews
In a story rife with first love and the pain of growing up, master storyteller Ronald Kidd reincarnates the most enduring trial of the twentieth century. School is out in the summer of 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee. For Frances Robinson, a fifteen-year-old daydreamer with a crush on her teacher, John T. Scopes, summer vacation promises tennis, and Coca-Colas from her father's...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 24th 2006 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
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Amy
Dayton is a sleepy little town nestled in the mountains of Tennessee. It is long across and about two miles wide. Despite being the home of Bryan College, a school with over 800 students from around the world, it clings persistently to its small-town feel. The local librarians know the gossip on almost everyone and a trip to Wal Mart inevitably becomes a socializing experience. The “big cities” of Hixson and Chattanooga offer malls, movie theaters, and museums when local entertainment proves un...more
Drew
The book Monkey Town by Ronald Kidd portrays an all American, Christian town that goes through a giant change. The book follows a girl named Frances Robinson living in the small town of Dayton, Tennessee. Frances has always lived by the rules of the church and the beliefs of her father, but when a large, attention hogging, publicity filled trial sweeps through town, everything that she has ever known is challenged. The book shadows the famous Scopes Monkey Trial, showing how it affected the coun...more
Derek
Brings up the question of Creation vs Evolution but the book doesn't take a stand either way. The ending is very anti-climatic.
Kimberlynn Uhl
This was a rather interesting book that would most likely be targeted to a middle school aged students. The book is told from the view point of a fifteen-year-old girl in the 1920's. The town is in search of more publicity to bring more people into their small town. To do this, they arrest a young teacher for teaching a small segment in a biology class over Evolution. The entire arrest was staged as well as the trial that followed. The town promised that Mr. Scopes, the teacher who was arrested,...more
Mrs. Foley
When her father hatches a plan to bring publicity to their small Tennessee town by arresting a local high school teacher for teaching about evolution, the resulting 1925 Scopes trial prompts fifteen-year-old Frances to rethink many of her beliefs about religion and truth, as well as her relationship with her father. - Summary from library catalog

I so enjoy historical fiction and this book (like most) provides an author's note at the end with more information. Don't every skip that part of a hist...more
Maureen Milton
My 10-year-old and I listened to this title on CD and found it well written, interesting and informative about the circumstances surrounding the Scopes Monkey Trial. The protagonist, 15-year-old Frances Robinson, is based on a friend's forebear who lived through the trial in Dayton, Tennessee when she was 8. The author characterizes John Scopes as a willing participant in Frances's father's publicity stunt--arresting Scopes for teaching evolution (part of the state-distributed textbook). The big...more
Donura
Oct 14, 2007 Donura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all teens
Shelves: own
GRRRRREAT!! Couldn’t put down. There are not enough superlatives to describe how wonderful this book retells one of the famous trials of the 20th century in this country. I wish all stories in history could be incorporated into a historical novel of this caliber.

Johnny Scopes was just another high school teacher until Mr. Robinson decided that the town of Dayton, Tennessee needed to be better known across the country. His simple plan to get some publicity for the town turned into one of this co...more
Kit
One of the jacket reviews calls this a mashup of Inherit the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird. Kidd was inspired to write the book upon meeting his friend's mother, the real Francine Robinson, who shared her memories of being a child in Dayton, Tennessee during the Scopes trial. Kidd changes narrative details (some characters are made up; the real Francine was only eight years old at the time of the Scopes trial, not fifteen as in the story), but includes extensive information about the trial, inc...more
Natasha
I heard someone describe this as To Kill A Mockingbird, Jr.

While that struck me as blasphemy, that doesn't change the fact that Ronald Miller has written a super book.

In addition to the delight I took Kidd's premise (the Scopes Trial was really a publicity stunt?), I came to wallow in Frances' existential crises with such pleasure that I tried to forestall finishing the thing by turning the pages slower. (A trick my dear friend Sally taught me.)

Anyway, I went into such withdrawal the morning a...more
Emily
A curious take on a pivotal event in american history. Before reading this book, I didn't realize just how much of this trial was a complete publicity stunt. So, while enjoying this story, I actually learned something in the process. Always a plus!
Erica
The premise of the book alone will make you want to read it. It is all about a famous trial that takes place in a small town in Tennessee in 1925. It recently won a Sequoyah award, and rightfully so! The trial is all about the teaching of evolution vs. the teaching of creation in public schools. It is a fantastic account of the connotations of the separation between church and state. The town puts a local teacher on the stand, but we come to find out they have a secret agenda as well. An extraor...more
OK Dad
Spied this selection in the new YA section of our local small town library. Having just visited Monroeville with my family on our spring break road trip through Alabama, visions of famous courthouses danced in my head.

Note - Monroeville is the hometown of "To Kill and Mockingbird" novelist, Harper Lee, and the courthouse in the town plaza is an exacting replica (actually an original) of the one see in the film version of the novel.


The novel is sweet and syrupy in all the right places, managing t...more
Beth
Good historical fiction that brings to life the Scopes "Monkey" Trial about the legality of teaching evolution in schools . It's well based on historical research and the memories of some of the not so famous townspeople who were part of one of the most famous trials in US History. The Scopes "Monkey" Trial pitted Clarence Darrow, famous trial lawyer, against William Jennings Bryan, famous religious leader and lawyer. The book is told from the point of view of a 15 year old girl who found hersel...more
Karen Ball
It's 1925 and Frances, 15, has a crush on the new teacher, John Scopes. Her father, the school board chairman and local drugstore owner, has a plan to use the brewing controversy over the teaching of the theory of evolution to bring publicity to their town: Dayton, Tennessee. He has John Scopes arrested, and the resulting trial brings the most famous thinkers of the time to Dayton. Frances has to reconsider most of her beliefs and values: religion, friendship, family, and how to find the truth....more
Shaya
Well done historical fiction book. I learned things about the Scopes trial I didn't know, having only read an excerpt from Gone with the Wind. It effectively covers the tiral and France's coming of age. I liked that the main characters were well drawn out. From the author's note, it seems to be very accurate which I appreciate. The front cover has a quote that it's similar to To Kill a Mockingbird and I would have to agree it has a lot of the same qualities: young girl figuring out the world, fa...more
Heidi
This was interesting, entertaining, and informative. I didn't know much about the Scopes trial other than that it happened. So this was an enjoyable way to learn a bit more without reading anything dry or boring (especially while baking and cleaning the apartment!). I really liked how Frances learns to question, open her mind, and try to figure out her own personal views on things. The part with her father was one of the most interesting for me. Not sure why, but I loved how it resolved for both...more
Rekha
This is the fictionalization of the Scopes "Monkey Trial" that occurred in the 1920s. Teenager Frances is the daughter of the town drugstore owner, who stirs up the controversy over John Scopes' teaching of evolution in a local school just to generate publicity and noteriety for the town in Tennessee. Frances tells the story of Clarence Darrow coming to defend Mr. Scopes (on whom she has a little crush), and William Jennings Bryan coming to town to prosecute. She also runs into H.L. Mencken who...more
Katy
While this book doesn't even compare to Inherit the Wind, it does offer a fresh perspective of how the townspeople of Dayton, TN, reacted to the infamous Scopes Trial in 1925. It is historical fiction, based upon interviews Kidd had with a daughter of the one of the men who was instrumental in creating the trial for publicity. It shows the changes that occurred---Frances with her family, the reactions to the trial by both the townspeople and the "outside" world, and to the life of Johnny Scopes....more
Courtney
Feb 20, 2010 Courtney rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: middle school, anyone who likes historical fiction
It's the summer of 1925 in Dayton, TN, and Johnny Scopes broke the law: he taught evolution. This novel takes the real event, and delivers it through the eyes of Frances Robinson, a fifteen-year-old native of the sleepy, little town. As the trial heats up, Frances watches Johnny's spirit diminish, and the townspeople go from neighborly to violent - all in the name of God. As she comes to terms with her own beliefs, she realizes that a line has been drawn, and the consequences may be more than an...more
Merry
I generally love historical fiction because it makes me FEEL history. This book was no exception -- I felt the injustice of Johnny Scopes being innocently drawn into a trial that was supposed to be no big deal. The story, however, is told through the eyes of fifteen-year-old Frances Robinson, a girl with a crush on teacher, Johnny Scopes. Not only do you live the fascinating details of the famous Scopes "Monkey" Trial, you watch the evolution of Frances, herself, as the trial unfolds. Beautifull...more
Tina
Sep 03, 2008 Tina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all YA readers
This is a Historical Fiction book - the story is actually written about the Scopes Trial.
It is 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee, and the townspeople come up with an idea to "put their town on the map". They decide to put their coach/biology teacher on trial for teaching Evolution. John Scopes agrees to stand trial, but things don't go quite the way the town planned them. Frances is only 15, but realizes quickly that some people are telling the truth. The trial changes the town and its people forever.
Robin
Parts of this read like an old school "first romance" novel. The fun, however, is watching Frances' thoughts shift from her dreamy teacher to the nature of truth, justice (and the American way). I'm pretty psyched to see this one through.

"Maybe all of them were right, and all of them were wrong. Maybe each was a little bit right. Maybe I could look at the world and decide for myself. It didn't have to be right for Daddy or Johnny or Eloise Purser or Clarence Darrow, only for me."
Brian Wilson
I listened to this on the way to Charlotte for the Christopher Moore book signing of "You Suck". The book is billed as being a cross between "Inherit the Wind" and "To Kill a Mockingbird". While I wouldn't quite put it in the same territory as those books, I did enjoy it. It is a story a lot of people know about, but might possibly think of differently when hearing it re-told from this, more personal, level. A good story, well written, but not a blockbuster.
Ashley
This was an interesting way to learn more about the Scopes Trial and how it was the brainchild of local businessmen who wanted to put their town on the map. The narrator, however, was too ingenuous for me. Frances seemed like a very, very young fifteen; I wish Kidd had given her voice to a twelve-year-old instead. In fact, the freedom of movement Frances enjoys seems more appropriate for a kid than a young woman of the period.

Recommended on audio.
Zahreen
It's an interesting premise for a historical fiction novel (the Scopes trial), but I thought it went a little slowly at times, which means that it's not a novel I would necessarily want my students to read (who have very little patience for slow moving plots). I thought it was accessible for students who wanted to learn more about the controversy surrounding evolution - and I would definitely recommend this book to my higher level students.
Mr. Steve
One of my favorite historical fiction titles...sweet and understated story of 15-year-old Frances who unwittingly is caught in the middle of one of the biggest U.S. trials of the 20th Century when her father hatches a plan to arrest her science teacher Johnny Scopes for teaching evolution. Based on the actual 1925 Scopes Trial. Get past the boring cover and historical fiction fans will not be disappointed.
'Chele
Loved this book! A 15 year old girl tells the story of what happened in Dayton, Tennessee during the summer of 1925. The Scopes trial begins and H. L. Mencken, Clarence Darrow, and William Jennings Bryan come to town. This proves difficult for Frances Robinson because she has a crush on her teacher, John T. Scopes. Her trust in her family and town is tested as she matures through the summer.
Samantha
May 09, 2011 Samantha rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
A little plodding at times, but overall an engaging fictionalization of the Scopes trial, as witnessed through the eyes of a 15 year old girl. I'm not much for historical fiction, so it's hard for me to judge the quality compared to other similar books, but I was interested from start to finish, cared about the main characters, and felt like I learned a thing or two.
Diane
A fine young adult novel...fictionalized retelling of the trial of Johnny Scopes. He was accused of teaching evolution. This famous trial pitted Williams Jennings Bryan against Clarence Darrow. I never knew the entire trial was rigged to bring publicity to the town. Very good story based on a real life character who was a child in the town during the trial.
Egriffiths
Monkey Town is set in the 1920 an the small town of Dayton, Tennessee. It is told from the point of view of a girl who witnesses the Scopes Trial. The story reveals interesting facts about the trial, the emotions of the people, and incorporates both truth and fiction. It was an amazing book that tells about a young girl stepping into the world as a woman.
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