Ask First, Monkey! is a super example of a Parachute Book: it carries such important message about consent and boundaries wrapped up in a gently humorous and engaging story.
Monkey, the protagonist, speaks in a convincingly child-like manner. Monkey just loves tickling his friends and he is SO good at it (he was ’born to make people laugh’), so when Goat asks him to stop the tickling, Monkey is taken aback; it’s hard for him to believe that there is someone who wouldn’t enjoy his spectacular tickles. Some of the other animals start to admit that they don’t enjoy being tickled either, or prefer certain types of tickling to others (Dog likes chase tickles, but surprise tickles are too jittery). Frog was nervous to admit Monkey’s tickling was unwelcome because of their substantial size difference (‘What if I’d told you and you’d been cross?’).
Monkey crucially realises that he needs to ASK people first! He makes it up to his friends with his ‘marvellous, massive, monkey hugs’, but this time, he asks for their permission first and respects their wishes.
Juliet Clare Bell’s text is imaginative and playful while delivering the important messages simply and skilfully. Abigail Tompkins’ delightful illustrations are a perfect pairing to the words, fizzing with energy and providing a dynamic pop of colour to each page. We heartily recommend sharing this book with any young child and using it as a starting point for a chat about consent and boundaries.