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Monkey Town: The Summer of the Scopes Trial

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  351 ratings  ·  71 reviews
The author of Sizzle & Splat takes readers back in time to 1925 to the famous Scopes Monkey Trial in Dayton, Tennessee. This novel unfolds from the point of view of a 15-year-old girl, a student of John Scopes.
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 24th 2006 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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Jen from Quebec :0)
I liked it, but this is absolutely more 'coming of age' story than a great depiction of the trial (it IS YA, so the trial is the backdrop for the 'last childhood' summer of Fran). If you're looking for a good examination of the actual TRIAL, please read the wonderful play, 'Inherit the Wind' instead. This is a good introduction to the idea of Creationism .vs. Evolution, though, and I can see myself using this text in my future Ethics classes for 9th graders. --Jen from Quebec :0) ...more
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 25, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Brings up the question of Creation vs Evolution but the book doesn't take a stand either way. The ending is very anti-climatic. ...more
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Characters

In the book Monkey Town, we get to see many different characters from many different backgrounds. There are some like Francis, that are just teens and then there are some like Henry Louis, who are just old and grumpy. My favorite character would have to be Francis, who can be very funny sometimes without realizing it. This is shown at the start of the book when she is comparing herself with Johnny, “Mama, I’m fifteen and he’s twenty-four. We’re practically the same age” (Kidd 4). H
Edward Hakanson
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Characters

The way this book brings in the characters is great. We meet the family of the main character right away and get to know who they are and what they do. We meet other characters pretty quickly, too. The way the author brings in these characters throughout the book shows us how the main character thinks, like at the beginning of the book the author wrote: "His name was John Thomas Scopes, and I thought he was the handsomest man I had ever seen."(Kidd 4). This way, we see that the ma
Bradlee Mains
Mar 09, 2020 rated it liked it
The characters that I liked in Monkey Town were; Francis Robinson, Johnny Scopes, and Edmond Duffy(Ed). I did not like Mr. Robinson. He was a liar. He always made things seem better than they were. He also roped an innocent man into doing something that would hurt Johnny. He only cared about items that would bring him publicity. He was interested in selling the most soda and collecting the most money. He never cared about who he hurt or what he had to do to get the most money.
The plot of the st
Andrew Yingling
Mar 06, 2020 rated it liked it
The main characters in Monkey Town are Frances Robinson, Mr. Robinson, Johnny Scopes, and H.L. Mencken. There are other characters in the book but they aren't mentioned very often sometimes only once. I liked Frances the most. She cared about everyone even those she didn't like. I liked H.L. Mencken by the end of the book. "I didn't know you liked music, I said. I don't like it. I live it. If it wasn't for music, I would have killed myself long ago." (Kidd 196) He became really friendly and open ...more
David Orenstein
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This YA book is excellent, although perhaps not quite as good for adult readers as the play "Inherit the Wind," which also is a fictionalized account of the 1925 Scopes "monkey trial," in Tennessee, where William Jennings Bryan really did defend the literal interpretation of the Bible, Clarence Darrow defended science and John Scopes (for teaching evolution, in violation of state law), in the trial of that century, and HL Mencken's newspaper articles eviscerated Bryan and the small-town, small-m ...more
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Easy read and entertaining historical fiction. The only think that felt off is the 15 year old girl who is main character. She could have had more of a depth to her personality. Maybe because a man author wrote the book?
Sally Andrews
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I almost gave this book five stars. Not sure why I didn't. It was REALLY good. So much of it is factual, and there's fiction thrown in. But what a great piece of history! Really good read. I finished it in less than 24 hours, because I just could not quit reading. ...more
Feb 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Knocked off half a star because I wish there were sources, a bibliography, and/or an author’s note in the back.
Yosef Shapiro
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is based on the real life events surrounding the infamous Scopes Trial.
Linda Anderson
Jul 31, 2020 rated it liked it
It was a nice story. I didn’t like that the author played with the age of the girl involved, but I understood why.
Dec 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
I read this book because I had to find something that had Monkey in the title. I ended up really enjoying the book. I had never heard of the Scopes trial before.
It's the summer of 1925 and hot as you know where in the small town of Dayton, Tennessee. Frances Robinson beats the heat by sipping ice cold Coca Colas in her father's drugstore and following her crush, Johnny Scopes, a teacher, around. Frances has grand visions of Johnny coming to appreciate her and love her one day soon. Her loyalty to Johnny is tested when Mr. Robinson, a member of the school board, questions Johnny about his teaching. Johnny admits he may have taught evolution when he was s ...more
Tranna Foley
Jan 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Kimberlynn Uhl
Nov 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Maureen Milton
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
SLJ review:

Grade 6 Up–In Ronald Kidd’s fictionalized re-creation of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, Frances Robinson, 15, filters events of that summer through the lens of friendship and loyalty in this first person account of history in the making. Originally orchestrated as a publicity stunt to bring commerce to the small town, the trial soon becomes more like a three-ring circus than an act of justice. Clarence Darrow comes to Dayton, TN, to defend local teacher, Johnny Scopes, while William Je
Oct 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
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 c
Dec 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Narrated by Ashley Albert A fictionalized account of the Scopes trial's impact on a 15-year-old girl, as inspired by stories heard from a friend's mother. Frances' father owns the town drugstore in Dayton, TN. He's up for any idea that will promote Dayton throughout the country so when the opportunity arises to put the teaching of evolution on trial, he and other community boosters jump on the chance. John T. Scopes, Frances' teacher and her crush, consents to being the fall guy and wheels are i ...more
Aug 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Karen Ball
Feb 04, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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The Young Adult H...: Monkey Town, by Ronald Kidd - November's Read 3 7 Nov 22, 2014 11:45AM  
summer of the monkeys 2 1 Mar 01, 2012 08:16AM  

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Ronald Kidd is the author of thirteen novels for young readers, including the highly acclaimed “Night on Fire” and “Monkey Town: The Summer of the Scopes Trial.” His novels of adventure, comedy, mystery, and American history have received the Children's Choice Award, an Edgar Award nomination, and honors from the American Library Association, the International Reading Association, the Library of C ...more

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