Linda's Reviews > Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
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's review
Jul 05, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: humor, repetition, trouble, language-and-literacy
Read in July, 2012

"Caps for Sale" as told and illustrated by Esphyr Slobodking is the story of a cap peddler who wore the caps he was selling on his head. The caps were checkered, gray, brown, blue or red and sold for 50 cents. The story takes place on a particularly slow sales day for caps. The peddler had not sold any caps but was hungry so decided to talk a walk outside town into the countryside. By and by he grew weary and sat beneath a tree to rest, with all the caps still on his head. He fell asleep. When he awoke, only the checkered cap remained on his head. When he looked up into the tree he saw that monkeys had taken all his caps and were playing with them up in the tree. He spoke to them calmly at first, and then grew angrier, making fists, threatening, and stamping his feet. Each time the monkeys imitate his actions. Finally, he throws down his cap in exasperation. To his surprise, the monkeys all imitate him and throw the caps down from the tree. Having regained his caps, the peddler heads back into town in search of a customer for his 50 cent hats.

I remember this story being read on Captain Kangaroo in the 1950's. I think it was even the same illustrations. The illustrations leave just enough to the imagination to fill in the tone as the peddler changes his demeanor from hopeful salesman to exasperated salesman. I liked the story as a child and find it ironic that I actually spent over half my life as a sales rep. I could feel his pain as it is bad enough to have a slow turnaround, then to have lost the hope of having any sale at all, and then back again to an even keel. Such is the life of a sales rep. In this manner the story is of how anger and frustration was expressed and the surprising ending of how it was resolved.

Learning Extension: Children will definitely enjoy the repetition and novelty of having monkeys up in the trees with the peddler's caps. This would be an excellent choice to read and reread having the children act it out as they went along. It is an especially good choice to lend itself to dramatic play having hat props for the children to wear.
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