“Once there was a peddler who sold caps. But he was not like an ordinary peddler, carrying his wares on his back. He carried them on top of his head.” So begins the tale of Caps for Sale, the lovely story of an unorthodox peddler and a tree full of pesky monkeys! Written and illustrated by Russian author Esphyr Slobodkina in 1940, it has remained a favorite amongst children for generations. I can remember when my kindergarten teacher read this book to our class. I immediately feel in love and have reread it many times over the years. Although the list is long and mighty, I can honestly say, this was my very favorite book as a child. Why?
I loved the absurdity of the book; a man balancing 17 caps on his head, monkey’s in trees wearing hats, and the interplay between man and monkey!
I also was empathetic to the peddler’s loss. Can you imagine losing your wares to a bunch of renegade monkeys!
Well, far be it from me to give away the end of the story, suffice to say, I’ve always been a sap for an “all’s well that ends well” read. As a bit of an aside… the peddler’s frustrated, and sometimes angry exclamation of, “You monkeys, you”, became a favorite exclamation of mine as I was raising my children, although mine was uttered playfully, and usually followed by… “Move it, monkeys!”
Caps for Sale is a perfect story for children to act out. The plot is simple, and if you reduce the number of monkeys, the cast is small. To that end, I have crafted a set of characters and props to help your children extend the story to their own imaginative play.
Meet the peddler. Ready to take a little rest under a shady tree.
Met the monkeys. Ready for a little mischief and mayhem.
Feel the frustration of the peddler, bested by the monkeys!
And, feel the exhilaration brought on by an unlikely turn of events!